The Best Teacher Conferences of 2019, And Why You Should Attend One

5 min


Attending a teaching convention or conference is perhaps the most invigorating professional experience you can have. Imagine the best professional development training you’ve ever attended – then imagine that momentum sustained over a period of three full days with thousands of other likeminded educators and you might have a small taste of what attending a national convention actually feels like. 

While all conventions are different in theme, content and focus, they do share many similarities. If you’ve never attended a national convention, you probably aren’t sure what to expect. Here’s the rundown.

What to expect:

First and foremost, you’ll need to pay attention to the logistics. Most national conventions are held over a long weekend, often taking place Thursday through Sunday. Their location changes each year, which means the ins and outs of traveling to them changes, too. More than likely, you will have to fly (or drive a long distance). You’ll need to book a hotel, see to transportation to and from the airport, set aside money for food, book a substitute to teach your classes for a day or two and register for the convention itself.

There is no getting around the fact that national conventions are pricey. First-time attendees should check with their district administrators to see if professional development funding is available to cover some, if not all, the expenses. Funding is often available, especially if attendees are willing to share their new expertise with colleagues upon their return. 

As soon as you arrive at a convention, you should expect to receive a convention program that contains the entire convention agenda. It will contain information such as maps, session descriptions, speaker bios and more. Plan to spend some quality time with your program immediately so that you can sketch out what you would like your convention experience to look like.  

Keynote speakers are a highlight of many education conferences. Big names in the field are brought in to speak to the thousands of attendees about cutting-edge research or developing industry trends. They are motivational, and you are meant to leave feeling like you can take on the world.

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From there, you will customize your conference experience according to your personal preference. Conferences contain a wide array of choice, and you can’t possibly do everything. You’ll select from sessions, where a presenter teaches a class that lasts for one or two hours, poster presentations in which academics present findings from recent studies, more speakers, hands-on activities, demonstrations, short film viewings and more. 

You’ll also want to spend some time in the exhibit hall that is a hallmark of most conferences. Exhibitors of all kinds set up shop at conventions, including book publishers, curriculum development companies, tech startups with programs/gadgets/ideas that make life easier in the classroom and many more. They bring cutting-edge information with them that they readily share as well as show discounts for their products and lots and lots of free convention swag. Leave some extra room in your suitcases for all the goodies you’ll bring home. 

With all this in mind, you’ll want to pick out the perfect convention to attend in 2019. There are conference choices for everybody. Some are organized by grade level or subject area, while others are for a wider swath of educators. Check out the details below.

With all this in mind, you’ll want to pick out the perfect convention to attend in 2019. There are conference choices for everybody. Some are organized by grade level or subject area, while others are for a wider swath of educators. Check out the details below. 

1. Subject-area conventions

NCTE

When: Nov. 21-25, 2019

Where: Baltimore, MD

What: The National Council of Teachers of English convention is for English teachers from the kindergarten level to those teaching college language arts. Attendees focus their learning on English literacy, network with other English teachers and meet children’s book authors. 

NCTM

When: April 2-6, 2019

Where: San Diego, CA

What: The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics convention brings together math teachers to network about the ins and outs of math instruction. This includes new curriculum and instructional techniques. 

NCSS

When: Nov. 22-24, 2019

Where: Austin, TX

What: National Council for the Social Studies annual convention attracts more than 4,000 attendees. In 2019, the convention will take place in Texas and partners with the National Council for Geographic Education, and the Texas Council for the Social Studies.

NSTA

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When: April 11-14, 2019

Where: St. Louis, MO

What: The National Science Teachers Association annual convention theme is Champions for Science Education. The 2019 keynote speaker is retired astronaut Scott Kelly. Attendees select sessions to attend in four strands all designed to invigorate science instruction. 

ACTFL

When: Nov. 22-Nov. 24, 2019

Where: Washington, DC

What: The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages plans for more than 7,000 attendees who can attend some 800 sessions. The ACTFL convention is for foreign language teachers at all grades and levels of experience. 

2. Grade-level conventions

Best Early Childhood Education Conference

When: Feb. 6-9, 2019

Where: Chicago, IL

What: This convention focuses on research-based best practices for teaching young children. The conference combines experts from a wide variety of industries including education, administration, health & wellness, medicine, nursing, justice, social service, policy, government, parks & recreation, tech and business. 

Annual Conference for Middle Level Education

When: Nov. 7-9, 2019

Where: Nashville, TN

What: This conference is for educators of students in grades 5-9. The conference is designed to give attendees practical strategies they can use to engage and nurture middle level students. 

3. General Interest Conferences for Educators

ASCD Empower19

When: March 16-18, 2019

Where: Chicago, IL

What: ASCD is the Association for the Supervision of Curriculum Development. This conference promises to help educators find strategies that overcome the education status quo. 

ISTE

When: June 23-26, 2019

Where: Philadelphia, PA

What: The International Society for Technology in Education aims to help educators worldwide solve problems in the education profession with the aid of technology. This year’s theme is Bold Educators Activate Change. 

SXSW EDU Conference and Festival

When: March 4-7, 2019

Where: Austin, TX

What: SXSW EDU is a part of South by Southwest conferences, which are known for their conferences that encourage networking, collaboration ,and creativity. Specifically, SXSW EDU “cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning,” according to its website. 

Deeper Learning 2019

When: March 27-29, 2019

Where: San Diego, CA

What: Deeper Learning 2019 focuses on creating an equitable learning environment. DL2019 says its aim is to “encourage and support these educators to be leaders of change, disruptors of inequity and innovators of pedagogy.” 

International Literacy Association 2019 Conference

When: Oct. 10-13, 2019

Where: New Orleans, LA

What: The ILA 2019 Conference promotes literacy. Educators can attend workshops and panel discussions in a wide array of areas. Sunday’s events specifically focus on children’s literature. 

Future of Education Technology Conference

When: Jan. 27-30, 2019

Where: Orlando, FL

What: 2019 is the 39th annual Future of Education Technology conference, and it boasts being tailored toward a technology-driven education community. Dr. Mae Jemson, the first woman of color in space, is a keynote speaker. 

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AuthorAmy

Senior Member

I am an unrepentant lover of words - and lucky me, I spend all day, every day immersed in them. When I'm not teaching, I'm reading. Or writing. Or teaching eager (and sometimes not-so-eager) adolescents about the power of the written word. I live on the scenic Oregon Coast with my dog, two cats, and five-year-old son.

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