NECC can be overwhelming. How can you possibly see all the things you want to see and attend all the sessions you need to attend?

You could try cloning yourself, but that is probably not the most viable option. You could limit yourself to only a few sessions each day, but you’d miss most of the conference. Or you can work as part of a team, dividing and conquering this massive event. Here are some strategies to help you and your teammates get the most out of your experience.

  • Go to a NECC Orientation Session if this is your first visit. You’ll get the information you need to make NECC a wonderful professional development experience. These sessions will be held in Room 6B Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. and Wednesday at 7:15 a.m.

  • Know your goals. Meet as a team to figure out your goals before you even look at the workshops, sessions and other conference offerings.

  • Keep your Final Program handy. This is your lifeline for the conference. It lists the concurrent sessions, keynotes and events. It also contains a map of the convention center.

  • Use the Themes and Strands to find the sessions most useful to you. For example, sessions categorized in the Learning Environment theme are targeted mainly at teachers and teacher educators. The sessions are then categorized by strands, such as English Language Arts, Multiple Intelligences and Student Assessment.

  • Play to your strengths. Choose which sessions each person will attend based on his or her knowledge and skill level. Attendees with prior knowledge or interest in a topic typically get the most out of the session, and they can bring the most useful information back to the group.

  • Plan regular meetings to debrief all you have learned. You’ll find team planning space in the Sails Pavilion on the Upper Level of the conference center.

  • Visit the Exhibit Hall. This is a great area to divide and conquer as well. Visit all of the interesting booths in your section of the hall, then share the information you have learned and show your teammates the coolest freebie you picked up.

  • Finally, have fun. NECC has planned some extra-special events this year. Attend the opening reception and fireworks display, go to the Thursday night social, take a break at the Friday ice cream social and sample San Diego’s sights and sounds, from Balboa Park and Coronado Island to the San Diego Zoo and the Maritime Museums. You’ll need to blow off some steam after such a packed schedule, and this type of experience cements the bonds among co-workers and friends.

    Jennifer Roland is a staff writer for the NECC Daily Leader.