Presenting a Session at a Conference

This post is about presenting a session and as an example I am sharing one I presented at MaFLA 2018 called Cartoons, Sitcoms, and Competition Shows: French television as authentic resources. The set of slides for the presentation and all the handouts are linked below. You may enjoy those resources for your own classroom and not just as an example of how to present a session at a conference.

I am an advocate for teacher leaders. I think that experienced educators can help other teachers with their planning, instruction and assessment. We are generous with our students and we can be just as giving with other professionals, and it benefits us all. There are many ways to do this. What I have found that works for me is to help others with instruction by showing them my discoveries along the way. I know that other teachers have their own style, so I share my ideas as a start, hoping that they might be inspired to try my activity and make it their own.

I attempt to share with other teachers through conversations at work, through shared curriculum files with teachers in my district and by gathering with teachers from other towns in a Professional Learning Community. And then I like to share my activities with a wider audience through presenting at professional conferences. I am new to this, having only presented twice at the state level and once at the national level. There may be multiple conferences that are accessible for you. For me there are opportunities at the national, regional and state level:

  • The ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo — national, moves between locations, but comes to Boston and DC regularly. Usually held the week before Thanksgiving. Proposal are due in January.
  • Northeast Conference in New York City. Usually held the second weekend of February. Proposals are due in May.
  • MaFLA Conference in Springfield, MA. Usually held the fourth weekend in October. Proposals are due in April.

Each organization has a different approach to conferences. Check the website to better understand on what basis they will accept a proposal so you can tailor your session according.

To present at a conference, you will need a great idea for a session. While much of your own personal magic is your teaching style and how you build relationships with your students, in order to showcase those skills you start with a something new and cutting-edge to catch the interest of your attendees. The new technique will offer you a chance to showcase your style of teaching. At my state conference last year, the new idea that I highlighted was Picture Talk, my own version of Movie Talk, which proved to be a new instructional tool at the conference that got a lot of buzz. Some of the attendees had experience with Movie Talk and for them I was able to share how I use it. Some had heard of it but hadn’t tried it and for them I could show them the way. And, for still others it was a new idea and I could lead them to take a risk to try something new. I was able to give all these teachers a new tool for their tool box.

Once you have that new idea to share, then you will need to find your objective and content for your presentation. My overall objective was to show other teachers ideas for how to provide input in the proficiency-based classroom. And the content I decided to present was French television. I chose the content because I knew that I had a lot of examples and experiences about television to share with teachers. It has been my experience that attendees love to walk away with a folder full of resources to try out. They want to try activities that are already done for them before trying to create their own.

French television shows

You will find my presentation and my shared materials in this folder. I urge you to share what you know with other teachers by presenting a session at a conference.  You will undoubtedly be happy with the results as your fellow teachers will be ecstatic to benefit from what you have discovered along the way.

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