Professional development can be a difficult thing to find when you are beyond a beginner and not yet an advance user. Closing the Gap has kicked off their preconference sessions yesterday and today. I personally love preconference sessions. It is a chance to get emerged into one topic for 8 hours. You may come out of the session exhausted but you have acquired invaluable information. I know people that just attend CTG for the preconference sessions and leave afterwards. Not what I recommend.
So if you are like me and missed CTG you maybe asking yourself what conferences are on the horizon that I can professional development outside of my knowledge or skill range?
The first conference to consider is the TRLD (Technology, Reading & Learning Diversity) which is held in San Francisco. This conference is owned and operated by Don Johnston. Inc. No, it is not a Don Johnston. Inc dog and pony show.
The conference is not just about assistive technology it is a conference that embraces general education topics and presenters as well as assistive technology. As a participant, you have the opportunity to be in small presentations with leaders in the field of technology and implementation.
Let's face it, assistive technology tools are just that tools. But to get true implementation and consistency you have to understand the inner workings of the tasks that are being accommodated. Many of us know how to work around reading but few of us understand how to remediate struggling readers or understand the why the person is struggling. The same can be said about any of the core areas such as writing, math, and organization.
The TRLD conference is a small intimate conference that doesn’t get much press but I honestly believe that everyone should give it a try at least one time. Trust me; you attend once you want to attend a second and third time. It is a conference that is rich in research based experiences and knowledge and the presenters are in the forefront of the field of implementation.
The other plus side is that San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. The location of the conference is central to all the hot spots in the city. The Hyatt hotel is one of the best in the city. A great view, spacious living area and bathroom, the food is very tasty (especially the breakfast), expensive. It is in the financial district of the city. You also can’t beat the location: Across the street from Walgreens and Starbucks (if you like coffee). OK so if you never have been to SF, I will let you in on a little secret: there is a Walgreens on virtually every corner.
You may think I am kidding there are 57 Walgreens in the city of San Francisco. There are less expensive hotels in the area.
I have to tell you, I had the pleasure of staying at the Monticello InnMonticello Inn. The room was not overly large, clean and reasonably priced for San Francisco. It takes 5-6 minutes to get to the Hyatt by bus or if you can get the hotel car shuttle (free) to the hotel. It is located in the Union Square section of the city. There is a wonderful diner that has the best milk shakes and good. One word of caution, it is near the Tenderloin section of the city. Don’t venture too far from the hotel at night into the Tenderloin section during the day it isn’t too bad but during the night, the story changes drastically.
Another hotel in the area of the Hyatt is The Harbor Court Hotel. It was a pleasurable stay. The cost was reasonable for San Francisco. The room size is on the small size but for SF that is considered normal.
San Francisco is a city that sleeps. Union Square and the financial district go quiet pretty early in the night. I would say by 8 you are done unless you go to the wharf.
Ghirardelli square is worth the journey for the warm chocolate chip hot fudge sundae.
There is one restaurant down in the Wharf that is a must try especially if you like excellent seafood. It is not the typical tourist place. Scoma's Restaurant is a hidden little gem.
If you plan on going to Alcatraz, order your tickets early. They often sell out quickly. I prefer the night tour to the day tour. You get more interaction with the Park rangers. It is also less busy. I recommend purchasing tickets directly from the source and not from the tour companies: Alcatraz Tour .
If you like to have a little fun at night and like paranormal activities check out the Ghost Hunt. The tour guide is a real character and knows the history of the city. It is worth the three hours that you walk around to hear the rich history of the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco.
There are many things to do in SF after you have attended the conference.
Just an FYI: January is rainy the rainy season for San Francisco. Don't let that dampen your time. There are a TON of things to do while the weather might be wet.