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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

Planning for Conferences...and Millennials

Here I sit, on the precipice of planning a statewide leadership conference for public school administrators in November 2017. But I'll be asking many more questions than 'do they know the way to San Jose?'

My aptly talented and skilled compadres from the Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership (TICAL) will serve as my co-chairs, their names not publicly shared just in case they haven't informed their spouses that I roped them into more work. But as we begin our planning, keeping the stylistic nuances of millennials in mind will be at the forefront of our strategy.

Appealing to millennials has been referred to as a task requiring interactivity, personalization, hands-on learning with a flair of socialization, likely through social media. What we know about millennials, likely the largest group from which to recruit in today's leadership positions in public education, like immediate. They like involved. And they need to have connections beyond speaker after speaker after speaker. I'll be honest - we'll have our work cut out for us as most presenters are really tied to stand and deliver more than we'd like and certainly not what we expect in return from our educators in today's 21st century classrooms.

One thing the research is telling us about millennials is that they don't care for the more formal activities and opportunities at conferences, instead aiming more toward the informal coffee klatches and social hours. Maybe "Appy Hour" will make a resurgence at the conference, where we can have leaders share their most effective leadership apps while enjoying appetizers. Yes, that may certainly be in our future.

Linked In articles talk about conferences and sessions for fields outside of education focusing on "short bursts of content," reducing some workshop sessions from an hour or more to 15 to 20 minute segments. Hmm....that's an interesting thought.

And then there's the "wow factor," much like what our teachers encounter in classrooms. We have so many students living with a plethora of technology that they come to school expecting to be entertained, or they simply tune out. Same goes for millennials.

Here's a sessions that solve problems, that address issues that leaders have. Unconferences. Maybe we plan part of a day as an "unconference," with attendees bringing their issues with them, finding solutions, solace, and sympathy with new colleagues. If creatively scheduled, it might just have a place.

Let's revisit that "social" aspect for just a minute. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. (Linked In????) Certainly, we will need to find a way to capture attention, generate interest, and communicate with these and other forms of social media beyond our conference app. Oh - here's an idea - finding social media reporters to capture others in action, learning and enjoying the conference.

Yes, our work is certainly cut out for us! Here's to a great 2017 Leadership Conference. Thirteen months to get it right.

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