How to Choose Sessions for a Homeschool Conference

Last week Teach Them Diligently revealed their session schedule for Nashville, the first stop along the 2015 conference tour. Several newbies have asked me how I choose my classes/speakers so here goes.

For starters, you do not have to “sign up” for sessions. You can pop into whatever class you like. Granted, some classes will fill up based on the popularity of the speaker so I always recommend arriving at least 5-10 minutes early if you want a good seat.

Next, there are more sessions than you can possibly attend and, trust me, you will want to attend most all of them. Don’t worry! They offer recordings of all the classes. You can pick and choose individually or buy the whole set. Last year, the sessions were $3 each or $99 for the whole set, which is the best deal because it breaks down to less than $1 per session.

Moving on. Here’s how I go about my selection process. There are many steps involved. And highlighters. Lots of highlighters. By the way, have I mentioned that I’m a type A? You’ve been warned.

  1. Print Schedule. 
  2. Put a dot next to any session topic that sounds interesting. 
  3. Read bios for speakers selected in step 2 and make a note to which program, blog, or curriculum they are associated with. 
  4. Eliminate any sessions that are associated with curriculum or programs that do not interest me or I am already familiar with. It’s only natural that speakers are going to plug their platform. 
  5. Look for sessions that have the same speaker and pick the topic that interests me more. Cross off the other one. 
  6. Check to see who some of the top speakers are and make sure I’m scheduled to hear them at least once. There are good convos about this on the TTD Facebook page. Here are my faves from last year
  7. Find a time block that I don’t necessarily love any of the topics and declare it vendor hall time. Yes, there are 2 built in blocks of time (1 hour each) for the vendor hall but you could easily spend half a day exploring this area. It’s HUGE! 
There are 16 opportunities in all to listen to a speaker. It took me about 2 days and a lot of highlighting to narrow down my choices but here they are. My notes in parenthesis.
  1. Karen DeBeusSimplifying Homeschool: Have Less Fluff and Bear More Fruit
  2. SKRAFTYMinecraft Meetup
    (If your child loves Minecraft, Skrafy is a must!)
  3. Ken HamGenesis, Biblical Authority and the State of the Church (Keynote)
  4. Kim SorgiusHow to Teach Your Children to be Independent Learners
  5. Carol Barnier Learning Styles(Another of my favorites from last year. I don’t care what she’s talking about. I want to be there.)
  6. Jen LiliensteinHow Personality Type Impacts How Your Child Learns Best
  7. Jan BedellFoundations of Learning Styles (I am still telling people about things I learned in her class last year. Child brain development is fascinating!)
  8. Joyce HerzogTried and Proven Learning Techniques (All of her classes were packed and people were sitting on the floor. She is amazing!)
  9. Rachael CarmanHow Many Times Do I have to Tell You?
  10. Kendra Fletcher Organization for a Peaceful Home
  11. David RivesBible Knows Best
  12. Dr. James Dobson – Topic TBD
  13. Jamerril StewartThe Working Homeschool Mom (story of my life)
  14. Jeannie Fulbright – Encouraging Success In Your Children
  15. Mary Jo TateJust Say No: Overcoming Interruptions & Distractions
In a few weeks, TTD may also release a list that has a brief summary description of each class. At this point I may tweak my schedule a little further but this is a good start and includes at least one session with all of my favorite speakers. 
Another good tip, if you like to Tweet, is to go ahead and start following the speakers and their programs. This will make it easier once you are at the event. Be sure to use the hashtag for your city (mine is #ttdnashville) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This will help you to connect to other attendees and stay in the know about what’s going on. Follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest (hint: I’m @bishopstaci everywhere). 
If you are looking at the schedule and are overwhelmed, it’s okay. I was my first year too. Put it aside for now and just pray about it. Worst case scenario is you just show up and pop into any classroom. The good thing about this conference is that you literally can’t go wrong. All of the presentations and speakers are incredible. If nothing else you will walk about encouraged, which is kind of the whole point if you ask me. This conference has totally changed my outlook on parenting and homeschooling. For the better!
See you in March!

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