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State Conference and Summer Learning

During the past ten months, I had the honor of attending nine different state (or in the case of Pennsylvania and Virginia, Commonwealth) social studies conferences. The opportunity to share in a day or two of professional learning with others quickly became one of the most enjoyable roles of my presidency. I was fortunate to have been able to renew friendships with many of my longtime colleagues, meet many new educators, and be afforded the opportunity to speak to and work with numerous pre-service teachers, during what my work colleagues deemed to be the “Building the Future Tour.” (Yes, tour t-shirts have been suggested!)

It wasn’t until the end of March that I started to reflect about the things that each conference had in common, session themes or topics that were addressed, and (most importantly) what made each conference effective and unique. What I found was that while states may not share the same curriculum standards or course pathway for graduation, what we all do share is a love for our subject, the students that occupy our classrooms, and the continued desire to hone our craft. Immersing ourselves in quality professional development opportunities, in my opinion, is the best and most enjoyable way to “up our game.” You know you’re in the right place when statements such as “You know it’s a happening time when the cool kids are in town!” and “#nerdherd” get bantered about.

There has been a concentrated effort amongst Affiliated Councils to share best practices from their conferences, so allow me to share a couple of the many unique opportunities that stood out from my visits.

  • Several states have developed special programming to meet the needs of their pre-service teachers. It was a professional joy to be able to participate in some of the mock interviews and to spend time with the future of our profession, answering any and all questions. A huge THANK YOU goes out to those professors who continue to mandate or encourage their pre-service teachers to attend either their state conference or the annual NCSS Conference. It’s how I got my start into the world of conference attendance, so it is near and dear to my heart.
  • While the idea of dedicated exhibitor time is not a new idea, how it is being carried out is unique. South Carolina offers a block of time the evening before the conference as early conference check in and dedicated time with the vendors. Others are more traditional in blocking off time during the day or having the afternoon snack/cookie break coincide with “swag time”.

To those councils who invited me to your conference, I offer my heartfelt thanks. Thank you for allowing me to attend, present a session and/or speak to your attendees, and giving me the opportunity to jump in and help you where I could.  I enjoyed every moment that I was in your presence and learned much from your conference and your attendees. I know that you are already hard at work planning an amazing 2019–20 conference. Social Studies never stands still.

I also find it difficult to believe that it was almost a year ago that I wrote my “Bon Bons and Binge TV” message regarding summer professional development. With the conference season complete, thoughts turned to a wide variety of summer PD opportunities, with many of you recently sharing your acceptances/rejections/waitlists on social media. For those of you who still have a day or two left in your summer calendar and are wondering what to do with yourselves, I say fear not my friends: this edition of TSSP is filled with a myriad of high-quality professional development for just about every learner. Take the opportunity to see what matches your interest and get yourself signed up. And, if you know of additional PD opportunities still available, please feel free to send me the information at so I can help get the word out for you.

Time to join the #nerdherd for the summer!