Confessions of a Tech Specialist: We Often Pay to Go Train and Connect

Tonight, as I was going through my training events from now throughout the summer, I had to laugh at the number of events that I plan to go to that are coming directly from my pocket. I laughed because I know that personally paying TO PRESENT professional development is just a normal part of what we do sometimes. Some schools will cover expenses but for many of us, that doesn’t happen unless there is funding. It most certainly does not happen for out of state events.

There are events like, Educon, that I would pay for in a heartbeat because I will leave that place as a better human being. Having said that, tech events are not the same. I rarely learn anything new that I could not have learned through twitter, blogging or a google hangout…so why on earth am I paying out of my pocket to go?

Events can be hundreds of dollars to attend…and that’s just registration. Add airfare and hotels and that means that our out of pocket expenses could be over $1,000 per event. By the way, when I say “our”, I am 100% referring to those of us that present on the basis of submission.

There are a few who have “earned” featured spots and for the most part, those speakers are there expense free…other than meals maybe. Those spots are typically the exact same people conference to conference because those are the people that draw a crowd and get others to pay to attend. They’re typically people who have a resume of great sessions, a reputation, have an insane number of twitter followers and who have extreme visibility.

How and Why

I will say that without the relationships formed through twitter, travel such as this would be financially impossible. Typically if a group of us are going to an event, we’ll split the cost of lodging. It’s those relationships that keep us paying to go teach because those events are where we typically connect face to face. The learning, for me, happens in those conversations and not necessarily in a session. Honestly, I kind of despise sessions that are not conversations. I’m a bit “edcamp-spoiled” in that aspect…which is why I LOVE Educon.

Free Registration

This summer, I’m presenting at TxGoo, Ipadpalooza and iDesign Coppell. Each event gave free registration to presenters, which should really be a no-brainer! Why aren’t they all this way? Hello TCEA, ISTE and Miami Device!

I’m attending Discovery Ed Summer Institute as well as the SMART Global Summit in Canada. Aside from travel TO Tennessee, both of those events are free events but both required an application and acceptance. Anytime that we can get PD at zero cost, we’ll try our best to do it. (Edcamps are awesome for that)

Paying to teach? No Really…Why???

I hate sessions yet I love teaching with a passion! I will even say that I’m pretty good at it and I’m not going to back down from that statement either. I also love seeing new faces and places. I’m not complaining about selling my left kidney to teach because it is a choice. We don’t have to go. We choose to do it and largely because we’re just that passionate about what we do.

I also go because as someone who has a great deal to say about lack of diversity at these events, I think that it’s necessary to be present, counted and heard.

One last thought…

At some point the “featured presenter” page needs to not be void of color because there are plenty of us in this edtech world with just as great of credentials as the typical faces that appear.


Comments 4

  1. This is why we are friends. I could have written most of this post! Since 2008 I have shelled out close to the equivalent of what the brand new Camaro is that I have my eye on. While it doesn’t sit will with me that teachers are forced to spend their own money on PD I have not regretted one cent of what I have spent. It is an investment in myself that has paid off for me. I just landed my dream job! Had I not attended all of the conferences I have been to and made all of the connections that I have I would not have had the chance to develop the skills that made me stand out from the crowd.

    I agree that sharing costs is the way to do it! I had a great time with you, Kristy, and Carrie at Educon. I don’t remember the last time I stayed up all night! Moments like that are what keep me coming back year after year. I guess I am not really paying to attend conferences, I’m paying to get to hang out with my best friends!

    1. That is the perfect way of looking at it. I’m paying to hang out with my best friends. I just wish that my best friends were going to every conference that I was attending!!!

      I don’t regret a single cent either. There are moments that I could go possibly even on the dime of a “vendor” like quite a few that I know but I like my freedom. I like that I can do what I want because it’s my investment…my time.

      I’m so glad to have met people like you, Kristy and Carrie and also Lisa Johnson and Andrea Keller…people that I have stayed nights with which enabled me to go and learn.

      I also have no regrets about going to teach because I do it for the growth aspect and also because after being so afraid of speaking for so long…feels good to have no fear.

  2. Rafranz, I love this post! So true. It amazes me what good educators shell out to become “better” educators. And the federal government graces us with a $250 tax deduction. When is that spent the first week before school even opens?! God bless the Internet for helping us find the new knowledge that each of us seeks. Amazing too how those with similar jobs can be seeking such different aspects of tech integration new knowledge acquisition. Looking forward to attending ISTE and other events. But I do love when quality resources spring up and are offered for free. I feel horrible “blowing off sessions” at conferences/events. But many times the informal conversations trigger more passion, more spark, more new thoughts then the “formalized” sessions do. So I’ve learned to let my heart guide my feet at these events.

    1. Yep, Neene I agree. I feel that by paying to go to events that my school or some other entity does not sponsor…I am benefitting myself and my growth. If my school pays, I go to sessions whether I like it or not to gather something to bring back. I do make time for conversations too though as those are equally as important. If I pay, I tend to do so with the intention of the conversation more so than the session and in that respect, I have no problem with skipping out on sessions when I could learn just as much in the “blogger” area. This will be the case for me at ISTE and I have no regrets about it.

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