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Fulfilling Expectations at Our Annual Conference/Symposium

One of the things I love best and hate the most about my job is reviewing at the evaluations for our annual conference. I love it because it is so clear from the evaluations that we are doing something right. I hate it because we never get it absolutely perfect.

This year we held our 10th annual Computer Science & Information Technology Symposium on June 27 in Washington D.C. We knew we had a very good agenda because we had terrific speakers (all of whom, by the way, donated their time for the day). We also knew we had an enthusiastic audience because we had to close registration early when we reached our capacity of 200 attendees.

But as usual, I spent my day in a state of panic. What if we have technical issues? (There are always technical issues at a conference!) What if a keynote speaker doesn't show up, or pranks me with an email two days before the conference saying she isn't coming? (Yes, this actually happened!) What if they hate the food? (This simply cannot happen because our project manager Barb Conover always makes sure we provide a fabulous feast.)

The truth is, our speakers, volunteers, and Board members are so smart and so steady, they can weather any potential disaster. But you know, I worry. That's my official job for the day.

And when I read over all of the evaluation forms, I feel incredibly relieved. Our attendees are so generous with their praise and good will. But I also feel a little sad, because sometimes the attendees make really good suggestions that we cannot accommodate. This year, for example, a couple of our attendees suggested that we have all of the presentations from all of the speakers available for download before the conference. This is such a good idea, and heaven knows, we have tried every year to do this. But the simple truth is that most of our speakers are still tinkering with their presentations up until the last minute, so the best we can do, is get them to send them to us after the conference so we can post them on the website. (And hey, if you still have not sent us your presentation...people are waiting!)

If you didn't get the chance to join us in D.C. this year, I hope you will be able to attend next year. Because even if we never get it perfect, it is still, as one attendee said "a fantastic day of professional development with wonderful opportunities for networking with other teachers and outstanding presentations".

Chris Stephenson
Executive Director
CSTA

Comments

You should have my presentation but I do confess to last minute tweaking the night before CS & IT. It's hard sometimes to finish up early. One of the factors with CS&IT is that the audience and the other speakers are the best and the brightest. When one presents there one knows they need to bring their "A game."

Speaking of the quality of attendees, the networking opportunity to meet with people is one of the highlights of attending. Even the quiet people and the first time attendees bring a lot to the table. I always look forward to meeting people there.

Thanks to CSTA for running the single most important professional development event for computer science teachers of the year.

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