Making your Case to Attend the NAGC 61st Annual Convention

In our current economic climate, getting approval and funding to attend conferences and conventions may be more challenging than it has been in the past. You need to show how convention participation will relate directly to the objectives of your institution and your professional development to obtain funding.

All too often, people who want to attend a convention simply submit a request and cross their fingers. Below are tips on articulating the need for your continued professional development from both the institutional and personal perspective

Rather than simply asking for approval, consider submitting a more formal proposal. Through this proposal you can demonstrate how your participation directly relates to the strategies and objectives of your school. This will allow you to express the need for your continued professional development both for your students, your school, and you. It’s not over after you have submitted a sound proposal to attend and received approval. You must prepare yourself to get the most out of the NAGC Annual Convention experience and then follow through after you attend.

Developing your Case

  1. Write down three to five of the most important goals and strategies being addressed in your school today.
  2. Think about how you personally contribute to those goals and strategies. How does your work as an educator serving high-ability learners affect the overall mission of your school? Make a list of your personal contributions to your school’s goals and strategies.
  3. Review the NAGC Convention schedule and itinerary planner to better understand how the information provided will support your school’s goals. Hit the star icon to add sessions you plan to attend that relate to your list of personal contributions to the attainment of those goals and strategies. Do the same for speakers, noting the numerous experts and others whom you would like to meet while there.
  4. Need to know more about sessions that specifically support your role in education? Check out these flyers.
  5. Write a short business case for how attending the NAGC Convention and meeting these people will help you contribute to the school’s goals and strategies and use this case with your administrator when making your request to attend the convention.

Documenting your Case

When you create your proposal for attendance, in addition to providing a summary of the funding you will need, detail your business case for attending. Here is an example of what could be included for an elementary general ed teacher’s proposal:

At present, our school’s goal is to improve the overall academic achievement of each student within the new Common Core State Standards we are implementing. My personal contribution to this is to deliver a quality education experience that helps keep our students engaged in learning, motivated to attend school, and extends to other curricular success through cross-curricular lesson delivery. Within the 400+ sessions offered at the 2014 NAGC Convention, there are over 20 sessions specifically targeted to improving my delivery of education to K-5 students. Here are a few I plan to attend:

  • Bringing UnCommon Thinking to the Common Core: Applying Creative Strategy to the Regular Classroom
  • Beyond the Test: Developing Thoughtful Questions to Create Critical Thinkers
  • Planning Common Core Standards-Driven Curriculum That Will Meet the Needs of Gifted Students Through Use of Best Practice Instructional Strategies

By attending the convention, I also have the opportunity to stretch our budget by purchasing needed resources at discounts not available elsewhere.

While professional development offered by our district is valuable, it is not specific to my discipline. Attending the NAGC Convention is the only opportunity I have to receive this level of professional development as an elementary educator wishing to better serve high-ability learners. Additionally, as there are so few teachers in our school/district trained to meet the needs of these students, attending a convention with 3,000 other educators of gifted students will offer me the unique opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other educators in my discipline. Because of these and many other reasons, I request your support to attend the NAGC Convention, November 13-16, 2014 in Baltimore.

Preparing to Attend

Once you have approval to attend, fully prepare so you can demonstrate that you received the benefits you ensured your administrator would be available.

  1. Review all convention details available on the NAGC website and Convention website.
  2. Register by September 20 to take advantage of “early-bird” discount.
  3. Make your hotel reservation early and use the NAGC housing system to ensure you receive the lowest possible prices on hotels that are closest to the Baltimore Convention Center, allowing you more time for educational opportunities, as well as networking with colleagues.
  4. Check out the NAGC Convention website to review the schedule and begin making selections for the sessions you wish to attend and make time in your schedule for working your way through the exhibit hall. With discounts you won’t get anywhere else, shopping in the exhibit halls can significantly stretch your budget.
  5. Make a list of people you want to meet and why. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to a presenter following a workshop. Contact other colleagues you know will be attending to set up a time to meet so you can ensure you have time in your schedule for networking.
  6. Meet with your colleagues who will attend (from your district) and decide which sessions each will attend so the whole team can cover more educational opportunities and share the information when you return home. Group discounts are available until September 20 for groups of 10 or more.

Attending Effectively

Try to stick to your schedule as much as possible and take notes during sessions. You will learn so much in these four days that it will be important later to have a reference, especially for presenting what you learned when you return home. Leave some time in your schedule for exploring the exhibit halls and for networking with colleagues. Over 3,000 gifted educators will be there—don’t miss out on this opportunity for learning from experts around our state, nation, and world!

Following up After the Convention

  1. After the convention (perhaps on the flight home) write a concise summary of what happened at the convention and how you will use the information you received and the contacts you made to benefit your institution/department. It’s important to write this one or two-page summary soon after the convention when the experience is fresh in your mind. Use the notes, photos or business cards you took at the convention to help you.
  2. Submit the summary to the person who approved your attendance. Thank them in writing for the opportunity to attend. Once your administrators understand the value, they will be more likely to approve your future participation.
  3. Meet with your colleagues and share what you learned in the sessions you attended for your team, or consider posting about your experience on a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  4. Implement what you learned in your classroom and enjoy your improved approach to delivering a quality education to all your students!

Beyond the Convention

If you are not now an NAGC member, you have the option to join when you register and save considerably on the Convention registration fee. Think about how the four days of Convention learning will be enhanced with a 12-month NAGC membership that will provide you with a steady stream of the most current information you can use, that includes practical publications that you will turn to again and again. Select the "New Member + Convention Bundle" when registering if you are not currently an NAGC member, or have let your membership lapse.