I don't want to post too much more on this topic, but I want to respond to a couple of posters:
Esther D. Leonelli writes:
>Michelle, when was the deadline for presenters the San Diego conference? >I must have missed it in the NCTM bulletin. >Thanks. Esther
The deadline for *applying* to speak was a long time ago. November maybe? I really don't remember. I got my acceptance about a month ago, and the deadline to submit the final title and description was April 6. I'm lucky to work in an organization where *lots* of people apply to speak at the various NCTMs (national and regional), so I usually hear about the deadlines at least a day or two in advance. But don't try to use the fax machine here the day speaker proposals are due! :)
Skip Fennell writes
>The time for planning for sessions, speakers, and presiders is needed. >Each annual program is planned two years out from the actual meeting. As >a member of the program committee for Seattle I can attest to the need to >get speakers, etc. finalized early. Regional meetings operate with a >similar (but a bit shorter) timetable.
This is what I hear (and the regional meetings don't operate on a much shorter schedule; most of them are still having deadlines a year in advance), but NCTM is the only conference I've been to that operates this way. As Susan Addington pointed out, MAA and AMS conference planners don't seem to need the same lead time. Nor do planners for some other conferences in education I've attended. (I started out in Deaf Ed., and have been to conferences about Sign Language research as well, and the lead time was much less.) What's so special about NCTM?
Tad Watanabe writes:
>I am not saying that teacher workshops cannot be outdated, but, if some >pedagogical approach is sound this year, then it should be sound in two >years, shouldn't it? Also, many of the local group meeting has much >later deadlines (and much more affordable to attend).
Not all the talks are about "pedagogical approaches." Often, it is teachers talking about what they do in their classrooms, authors talking about their books, and occasionally (*too* rare for my taste) talks on some interesting mathematics that is unfamiliar to most of the particiapants but accessible to students. (I saw a great talk on the Mathematics of Meanders at the Chicago NCTM regional.)
Now, as some folks have pointed out, what I'm really excited about as a teacher might change by next year. (Karen's approach is wonderful, by the way. I wish that in my job as a writer I could do that. What do I want to be writing about next year? ...) My particular problem is that, as a curriculum writer, the book I'm working on this year may be done, or junked, or who-knows-what by next year. I want to talk about my current writing/thinking, but I can't do that.
Ed Dickey writes:
>Having served on a couple of state and regional program committees, I >understand the need for the 12 month lead time. The key is a broad enough >title and description to allow for new developments. > >In the session I did on the Internet I was able to include examples of >posts from the past week (a Geometry Forum POW) and to connect to the net >live (that's fairly up-to-date). I saw lots of session on and about >activities that occurred within the past 12 months.
Broad titles don't work. As a conference participant, I hate them. I have no idea what the talk is really going to be about, if it's going to be interesting, etc. I have too many times been misled by a title and ended up walking out on the session. As a speaker, I want to attract people genuinely interested in what I will be talking about, and general titles might miss those people and bring in others.
In my session on a piece of our curriculum, my title from last year forced me to talk about topics that, while interesting, are no longer part of our curriculum effort. I felt a bit deceptive because I was there as an author of the Connected Geometry materials, but the specific stuff I was showing them (and they were liking) was no where to be found in our stuff...
Mary Hannigan writes:
>I did see something about putting next year's schedule on-line. At least I >think I did, it's been a long week!
I was asked to provide a short description of my talk in addition to a title. It said something like, "the descriptions will be made available electronically." I assume that means on-line, but it may also mean little computer stations at the conference. Who knows?
Steve Means wrote something about good speaker and worthwhile sessions. (Sorry, Steve, I deleted the message before deciding to make this response.) His comment was that he didn't agree with me that the sessions were a waste of time or out-of-date (or whatever it was I said). I agree that there *are* good sessions. I've been to a few. A very few. And the ratio of good to bad sessions that I've attended is disturbingly low. The fact is that they're hard to find. (And generic titles is one reason. When three sessions have the same basic title, how do you know which one to attend?)
So to folks out there who go to these conferences: how do you choose sessions??? I'd really like to know. I've started circling everything that sounds vaguely interesting, then wiping them out little by little until I have just 2 or 3 really promising sessions. I don't go to many, but they are usually good, wheras before I would go to lots, and walk out of most of them.
-- Michelle Manes Education Development Center, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org