Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Want to Attend a Conference?

By Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean for Teaching & Learning at EvCC

I recently returned from a national conference (League for Innovation) and am still thinking about the amazing presentations I attended and the incredible networking opportunities. I have a notebook full of ideas that I want to share with our faculty, and am already thinking about next year’s conference and the possibilities for my own professional growth.

I believe that attending conferences is important for all levels of our profession. We can not only learn about the most recent trends and best practices in teaching, but we can also see common issues that all colleges share through the eyes of others. Building community with teachers from not just your discipline but other areas (and not just teachers but administrators and students as well) is always good for getting perspective and helping us to understand everyone’s role in moving students to success and completion! And what’s not to love about visiting a new city?

Different colleges have different ways of funding travel to conferences. If you are at an institution that has an application process, consider writing a letter to those who hold the purse strings to explain why a particular conference is important for you to attend. Here is a modified sample letter that comes from

Good luck in securing funds for travel – I hope you are successful in attending a conference where you learn and grow in your profession!

Dear (Dean/Department Chair):
To ensure that (your institution’s name) continues to be on the cutting-edge of the best pedagogical practices, I would like to attend (name of conference with description, such as how many days, location, dates – as an example, The Assessment, Teaching and Learning Conference, Spokane WA, May 3-5 2017).
This conference features plenary sessions, workshops and non-stop networking through which I will discover research-based techniques on how to connect with today’s students, use new technology, and apply active-learning strategies from recognized experts.
By attending this conference, I will learn theoretically sound ideas covering topics such as:
  • Course design
  • Grading and feedback
  • Student participation
  • Learner-centered teaching
  • Active learning techniques
  • Assessment strategies
My participation at this conference will equip me with the new skills and strategies that will augment my strengths as a teacher. I will return reinvigorated and ready to share my new knowledge with colleagues.
Please consider supporting my attendance at this conference. To learn more, please visit (link to conference website).
(Your name)

You may also want to include comments from colleagues who have attended this conference. There may be quotes that you can grab from the conference website, things like “This is the best conference I have ever attended!” Is there other information about the conference that would convince someone to support this travel? Are the plenary speakers nationally known (maybe include info about them) or are there specific topics on the conference agenda that are of particular interest to your campus (social justice, diversity and equity, assessment, etc.).

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