Monday, July 7, 2014

ASCA Conference Tips for Newbies

Ok yes until 2 days ago I was the newbie so this entry may seem a little premature, but I swear I have a purpose. I want to write this now while these tips are fresh on my mind and then I can update and re-post in a year from now.

1) If you don't have/aren't taking technology (iPad, etc.) bring paper and pencil.

I didn't take my school computer for fear of a water plane landing and I would be paying the school district for a new computer and would loose the close to 3,000 pictures of Brooklyn and Boss on my computer. I felt alone being technology-less and spent the majority of the weekend sending my boyfriend some subtle* texts about my lack of an iPad. (*Does it count as subtle if I said- I am the ONLY person alive without an iPad…I MUST have one by Christmas, see attached link to Best Buy?) That being said the conference notebook had only 3 pages for notes and that meant I was out of writing room within the first two hours. I also couldn't find paper anywhere so I became resourceful writing on anything I could find (my bag, the program, napkins, toilet paper-ok I didn't go that far but I was tempted). This is another reason I blogged about everything I learned, because I am sure I will loose those scrap papers.

2) Take some business cards but not all 250.
I took my brand new business cards and I was happy I did, but I didn't give out all 250 (thanks Vista Print) so they just took up space. I am sure if I was presenting I would have. In a few sessions I heard people share great ideas so on the back of  a card I would write "please email me your bullying google doc" and then find them at a break meet/give my card/ask for xyz. I think it's helpful for people who have a short term memory issue like myself, plus your contact info is right there.

3) Don't be scared.
The conference was literally like being surrounded by counseling royalty and actual royalty (*Note: I am now referring to our First Lady as Michelle like we are suddenly best friends because Secret Service allowed me to be 50 feet away from her). I was nervous to meet people and talk and I wish I hadn't been. I mean I put my foot in my mouth daily so why not do it at Disney.
Me and Sandy Austin, School Counselor of the Year 2012 (if memory serves me). Note the panic in my face from meeting a super star.

4) Leave room in your suitcase.
You are going to take back lots of things- books, handouts, flyers, giveaways, business cards, bags, the $10 golf ball souvenir you get your boyfriend so leave room. I didn't and let's just say packing my bag was a crazy mix of Fenj Shui, Pinterest tips, and sheer force and muscle. Seriously leave space.

5) Get plenty of rest for the first night.
I had the best time going out to celebrate the first night there, but the weekend/week is long. My brain was literally hurting by the data breakout and I needed a nap, but couldn't afford to miss a single second. Pace yourself and have fun.

6) If at all possible attend the pre conference.
Although all of the breakout sessions I attended were fantastic, I think I got my best information at the pre conference sessions. From bullying to data to ethics there was a wealth of information and a little more time to fit it all in.

7) Pack snacks-especially in Orlando.
I am sure I read this before I left and didn't do it- so my bad. Really I lived in Orlando, have family in Orlando, and visit when I can so you think I would have known that an apple is going to cost $7. Plan ahead food budget wise. Knox County allotted us about $56/day and I know we went over that amount every day.

8) Check out your speakers before and and bring their books to save money.
I know this sounds crazy but between the insanity of the end of school then the start of summer, I didn't really "plan" for the conference until the night before. Also, by plan I mean shove clothes in a bag going "OMG what do you wear when listening to the First Lady speak!??!"  So needless to say I didn't realize  who some of our breakout speakers were going to be till I got there, and then being the bookie I am I had to buy all of their books and get all of their signatures. Cut to me coming home and visiting McKays and finding the Rosalind Wiseman book I purchased at the conference for $25 available for $7. Plan ahead, buy their books and just take them with you (besides you need to save your money for the $15 grilled cheese shaped like Mickey).

9) Get ready for your Twitter to blow up.
 I have always had this aversion to Twitter and was always like "nope not gonna do it." Well I met THE Savvy School Counselor and an hour later had a Twitter account.  I completely understand everyone's hesitations, but there is simply no better way to keep up on what everyone is doing at the conference, get the scoop on after-hours fun, see notes and get tips from breakout sessions you missed, see pictures that are better than your blurry ones of Michelle because you are shaking with excitement, connect and stay in contact with others, and market your own program/blog/etc.
Get more info. on using Twitter from these pro's.
Me and the Savvy School Counselor #starstruck

10) If Michelle Obama speaks get ready for a line that's longer than the line for Splash Mountain. I couldn't sleep the night before she spoke and somehow I still woke up late (story of my life). Just get ready that if you have a major speaker a lot of people will skip the session before to get a good spot in line.  I mean you can't go to Disney and not stand in line right!

My "new friend" Michelle aka The First Lady.

I literally went blank when talking to Rosalind Wiseman, so much for sounding smart and witty. She's so laid back and funny I literally crumbled under the pressure.


  1. Laura, I just read all your recaps of ASCA, and now I really want to go! You did a superb job, and I got lots of ideas just be reading your notes. Thanks a million...I know that took a lot of time!

  2. You are going to be ahead of the game bc Martha asked me to present on the 29th and I think I am going to use this as my "agenda."