Yesterday, we talked about surviving the vendor’s hall of a homeschool convention, but what about the speaker sessions? You might be surprised to know that the speaker sessions can be just as overwhelming as the vendor’s hall.
I’ve written before about our homeschool convention experiences over the years and how they have helped to shape what our homeschool is today. Those experiences were not found in the vendor’s hall. They came from the many, many wonderful speakers we’ve heard over the years.
However, homeschool convention speakers are almost always homeschool convention vendors. Most have written or are selling a curriculum or product that they passionately believe in. That passion will shine through in their class and often serve to convince you of your need to jump on their bandwagon. You can easily find yourself going from session to session nodding your head at every speaker, even when he’s contradicted the last speaker you heard.
So, here are a few ideas for surviving the speaker sessions…
1. Take a bag of goodies with you. I carry a bag I can sling over my shoulder that contains snacks, gum, water, pen, paper, money, etc. Conference sessions can be long and slammed together. Take anything you think you might need, but don’t load yourself down unnecessarily because that bag will get heavier as the day wears on.
2. Take notes. The speakers are going to throw a ton of information at you. Be prepared to write quickly and in a way that allows you to easily refer back to your notes later when you have more time to digest what they have said.
3. Don’t hesitate to buy the CD. As I said in the last post, all sessions are recorded. If you didn’t get it all or really want to hear it again, buy the CD. The recording companies often have a conference special in which you buy so many CDs and get another one for free or you can buy the entire conference speaker sessions for a flat fee.
4. Speakers are opinionated and passionate. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be worth hearing. However, those opinions are just that…opinions. Give yourself time to digest what they are saying and to check what they are saying against Biblical truth before buying what they are selling (either in the form of a tangible product or an intangible opinion). Not everything a speaker says is gospel truth or specifically needed in YOUR homeschool. Glean what is relevant to you, leave the rest.
5. It’s okay to get up and walk out. Sometimes you get into a session only to realize it wasn’t what you thought it was. There is no need to torture yourself for the next 45 minutes. Get up, walk out, and head to another session or to the vendor’s hall. Speakers have learned to understand that people have to leave sessions for all sorts of reasons and that it isn’t a knock on them per se. Plus, you are there to learn. If a session is not what you anticipated, go elsewhere so you spend your time wisely.
I’ve also noticed something as I’ve come of age in the homeschooling world. I don’t have to have the speaker sessions the way I once had to have them. I’m not a newbie who needs the how-to homeschool classes. I’ve been going long enough I’ve heard a lot of the big-name speakers at least once. I don’t have as many doubts and fears that need to be quelled by someone who has been there and done that. I no longer hit every single session as I used to. I take more shopping time and less classroom time.
I don’t know if this is a trend among seasoned homeschoolers, but I do see a lot of veteran homeschool moms who don’t even bother to go to the sessions at all. They pay the fee to shop and that is it. They know what they want and need and no longer feel the sessions benefit them.
My husband and I still enjoy the sessions, but we sit there on our terms. We listen and process and ignore what doesn’t fit our lifestyle, and talk on the way home about the things that intrigued us. I’m still there to learn, but what I’m learning no longer feels like the deep end of the swimming pool.
Someday, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more like you belong amongst the seasoned conference go-ers. Until then, take it slow and easy and enjoy the ride!