General Teaching – Attending Conferences (Wednesday 11/11/09)

November 11, 2009 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

AMATYC 2009 kicks off today in Las Vegas. In this article I share my thoughts on the importance of attending conferences for professional development, and offer some ideas to encourage sharing ideas even in these tough budget times.


One of the greatest benefits of being an author is getting the opportunity to attend many conferences – at least 12 a year. Even though I am there as a presenter, I feel that I come back with more than I brought. At these conferences I get exposed to some terrific ideas that I am able to bring back and use in my classes. At a book summit last weekend I learned about a great idea for teaching dimensional analysis. (I’ll share that in tomorrow’s “What I Learned” article.)



AMATYC is always my favorite conference of the year. Since it falls in early to mid November, it is my signal that Fall semester classes are now in the home stretch. More than that, there are multiple presentations on every topic of interest – assessment, student learning outcomes, activities, algebra, statistics, technology, study skills.

I also love the ability to network with other instructors. We share ideas, and get a feel for how things are outside of our local area. (We seem to be focused locally, but really benefit from a global perspective.) It’s also a great way to catch up with old friends.

Dealing with the Cost

AMATYC is an expensive conference. Registration alone is over $400. Don’t get me wrong – it’s well worth it, but when you add it travel costs (air fare for most), hotel, & food, it can easily go over $1000. What do you do when your school’s budget won’t allow it?

Option 1 – Attend local affiliate conferences.

In California our local affiliate is called CMC3. They host an annual conference in Monterey in December (N. California) and Anaheim in March (S. California). These conferences feature many fantastic speakers, lots of networking opportunities, and are relatively inexpensive. If you live close enough you can come in and out in 1 day for less than $100. (By the way, CMC3 hosts what may be the most underrated conference in Lake Tahoe in late April/early May. It’s a recreational mathematics conference, and is outstanding!)

Option 2 – Get a publisher to support a regional meeting.

I have attended several regional meetings sponsored by Pearson that focus on the effective use of MyMathLab. All publishers are looking to support these sorts of events. Most schools are happy to host, and the expense to the college is minimal. You can set these up for any topic – collaborative learning, study skills, activity based learning, …

Option 3 – Participate in online forums.

There are many great forums that promote the discussion of mathematics & instruction. It’s a great way to discover new ideas and share with colleagues. My newest favorite is the Instructor Exchange at


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. If there are topics you’d like me to address in future General Teaching articles, send in your requests through the contact page on my web site. Be sure to check out next Wednesday’s article.  – George


Entry filed under: General Teaching. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Study Skills – Intro to my AMATYC Talk (Tuesday 11/10/09) Potpourri – Things I Learned … Dimensional Analysis (Thursday 11/12/09)

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