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Pick the BEST Session at ANY conference EVERY time with this one simple trick.

If Time = Money and Money = Money, then picking the wrong one hour session at a conference is a stupid waste of MONEY.

Luckily for you I’m going to show you how, by spending just 10-20$ more, you can make sure you attend the BEST session at ANY conference EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Usually you spend the days before a conference charging your devices while you scour the schedule. You look at pages and pages of something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.00.03 PM

or perhaps you are furiously scanning the schedule while waiting in a registration line

Decisions, decisions, who WILL you chose? You see Will Kimbley’s name. You’ve met him. You KNOW he’s solid. He’s going to rock his session. You go to his session and spend thirty minutes watching him do this:


“can everyone please turn off your WiFi?”

Oh well… that happens, I mean life is full of surprises. Just go to another session. Oh that one was worse?

Jeez… okay let’s go to Jon Corippo’s session:


It was great. Of course. 

Okay so Corripo’s session was awesome, but it was completely packed and you only got in because you snuck in. What about the poor folks who “just don’t know no better?” What if aliens had sabotaged Jon’s session and it sucked?

Well, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s going to take a little bit of preparation and a little bit of money, but you will be able to share the BEST session with your co-workers and will remember it for the rest of your life.

See, I didn’t really CARE what happened at #CUE14 because I already knew that I was going to have breakfast with Linda Yollis and Nancy Minicozzi. How did I know? Because I followed the FOUR P’s of CRUSHING a Conference:

Prepare, Promote, Proximity,  and Pay.

Before the conference you are going to do a little homework. You will look up great places to eat, have coffee or a drink post-conference. Now some people, Alice Keeler, are cool with meeting people at Denny’s or Starbucks, but I’m not for three reasons.

  • One I want to make sure the meeting is memorable.
  • Two I want to bait the hook, just ask Curt Rees or Shawn White how important the right bait is.
  • Three, I LOVE good food and trying new places.


So before #CUE14 I did a little research and found a great coffee place.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 5.13.20 PM

I also found some great places for lunch and dinner, then made a planning doc of my finds and shared that out. It’s like putting some special sauce on your bait. It’s the second step of picking the best session.


Then I started Tweeting out pics of the coffee place


BOOM. The hook was set. But I didn’t just catch two trophy fish. I also caught Mike Vollmert and Andrew Schwab (yes I was sitting one person away with someone you have to pay $$$ to learn from… pinch me) with my multi-hook fishing rig. It was awesome. Now just that breakfast alone was worth the drive… but was I done?


Sometimes preparation and promotion aren’t enough. Sometimes someone wants to go to Shakey’s pizza. Shakey’s?! Dear God: WHY? So now you have to use the next P:


Now I would have been happy to go to lunch with any number of awesome people at CUE14, but I happened to be walking near the deep part of the lake when I spotted a beast of a fish, a fish I had been eyeing for over a year. Jon Corippo. Well you aren’t going to catch that Largemouth bass from across the lake, you have to go to him. So I hung out near him, just listening. Luckily I had brought special bait. Chris Long and Isaac Pineada. Two of the most awesome dudes ever.  Both Isaac and Chris wanted to go to lunch, had seen the planning doc,  and would confirm to Jon, that I knew what I was doing. I could sense Jon was reluctant to bite, he had his mind set on Shakey’s, but when he saw the confident look in Isaac and Chris’ eyes he took the bait.


Sandwich Bait.jpg

I LANDED a lunch date with Chris Long, Isaac Pineda and Jon Corippo. Boy did I learn a ton. It’s all hush hush for now, but a storm is brewing trust me.

Now Jon doesn’t need any money from me, he knows how to get money from others, but I really appreciated him going out to lunch with us so I paid for his lunch. That’s the fourth important step in landing the perfect session at every conference.


Paying for someone’s lunch or dinner is the “catch and release” (fishing term) of spending time with someone. Even if the conversation goes south at least they got a great free meal. Not just a free meal, a great free meal.

And that’s where I want this post to end. It’s not enough that we talk as teachers and friends, it’s not enough that we eat together, we need to take the time to make our “hobby” (teaching) something worth celebrating. Sean Ziebarth and I always joke that teaching isn’t just our job, it’s our hobby.

If you are going to the NCTE Conference in Anaheim in November of 2022 I made a small Yelp collection of places near the Convention Center. If you need recs for anywhere else in Orange County, just hit me up on Twitter @davidtedu

If you want to see this collection just click on this link.

How many other occupations get together and talk shop on a weekend at Chego in Chinatown after a baseball game?


Enjoying dinner with Greg Smith, John Stevens, Chris Long, Principal Durham, and Sean Ziebarth

How many Academy attendees stay a day later so they can try the best hot dog stand, in Chicago,  together?



How many teachers could use a night of Yakitori with Microsoft SuperBowl commercial teacher Scott Bedley and Techlandia’s ipadSammy?


So make your next conference, your next all day professional development your best one ever by attending the best session with a little:

Preparation, Promotion, Proximity and Pay




  1. Great post! I love the sideline convos I have had with Will and Juli Kimbley and Jon Corippo. It really is important to go into an informal experience, getting to know the speakers because you CONTINUE to have a relationship (and learn loads more) with them, BEYOND the presentation. I think we sometimes call it networking. That is actually part of the beauty of CUE ROCK STAR.

    May I reference your blog post in an upcoming presentation on being a Conference Junkie with Nancy Minicozzi @coffeenancy?

  2. Always love reading your posts. As I’m a newly connected educator and looking forward to meeting tweeps I follow and learn so much from at ISTE in Atlanta this, year- I will definitely keep this in mind! 🙂

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