25 Reasons NOT to attend a National Conference or Summer Professional Development

TEXT: 25 reasons why NOT to attend a National Conference or Summer PD

I offer my top 25 reasons (in no particular order) NOT to attend a National Conference or Summer Professional Development.

25. You come back with so many great ideas, but you can’t use them all in your classroom so you spend all your time thinking of ways to change your curriculum so you can fit them in.

24. You become passionate about the Bohr Model, or rather, not teaching it in its current form

23. You never realized how much nerdy clothing is out there that you do not currently own that you need and consider buying stock in these places to help fund your fix.  (@svahausa, I’m looking at you!)

22. You can’t actually take the tortoises home with you (Figure 1)


Figure 1: Tortoise Races at ChemEd2019

21. You have so much swag that it doesn’t fit in your luggage.

20. TSA stops you and searches your bag because of all the weird things that you have shoved into your carry on.

19. There is never enough space in your luggage for all the cool manipulatives you want to bring home.

18. You didn’t know how badly you needed a million whiteboards (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Whiteboards on a cart

17. You end up spending money on weird duplicate items for activities. Who knew just how much magnetic paper and ink you would need to make chemistry magnets?!*  

16. You buy even more books that you don’t have time to read, but you do somehow have the opportunity to get a bunch of them autographed (Figure 3)!


Figure 3: Authors Sam Kean and Deborah Blum autograph books for me!


15. You become jealous of the flair other people add to their conference badges

14. You see hundreds of the nerdiest people out there dancing to the Al D. Hyde and the Key Tones band.

13. You have to choose between using your drink ticket or keeping it because it’s just so cute (Figure 4)!


Figure 4: Drink ticket from ChemEd2019



12. You forget other people don’t speak in hashtags such as #ChemEdHot #chemfam #chemcation.

11. You discover that the teachers that you fan over online are actually just real people and they just give you their phone number so you can chat. Who does that?

10. You start name-dropping people that you met at the conferences like everyone else should know them. It’s like your girlfriend who lives in Canada.

9.  You become sad when you go back to school because summer camp is over and you spend months saying “This one time at chem camp”. As a result, you end up sounding like Alyson Hannigan’s character Michelle Flaherty from the movie American Pie.

8.  There is never enough time to hang out with all the people that you want to spend time with.

7. You stay up all night in the dorms having more fun than you did when you were 18, but really, you are way too old to sleep in an extra long twin dorm bed.

6. You have to choose among too many fantastic sessions. FOMO is real.

5. You hear all the really amazing presentations and then you get an idea that you might have something to offer and then spend nights worrying if you actually do have something that other people might appreciate. Then you have signed up to present and you end up being scheduled to present at a time that means you have to miss someone else’s awesome presentation (Figure 5).


Figure 5: An excerpt from the ChemEd2019 schedule


4. Your classroom looks like a college dorm with all the pics of your friends. (Figure 6)


Figure 6: A collage of pics from several summer conferences


3. You start imagining a new school that you would design to work with all your favorite teacher friends, and then realize that you could never decide where it would be located (spoiler: it’s obviously with me in Massachusetts)

2. Your best friends live hundreds of miles away and you can never see them. Thank goodness for unlimited texting and twitter.

1. Once you have attended one conference, you immediately start planning to go to the next one to start all over again.


Apply for an ACS Hach Grant and then come hang out with the rest of your #chemfam for #Chemcation2020

*Check out Doug Ragan's blog about magnetic particle models! He presented about these magnets at ChemEd2019!


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Comments 1

Michael Farabaugh's picture
Michael Farabaugh | Thu, 12/05/2019 - 11:14

#5 REALLY resonated with me. Here's hoping I can get my act together and between now and BCCE in July. I have to remember to ask myself the question, "Why not me?” instead of “Why me?"

Thank you for sharing, Ariel.