I've been home from the 2016 ASHA Convention for almost a week now, and have had some time to reflect.  Several people have asked me, "Is it really worth the time and expense?"


In a word, yes.

The ASHA Convention is one of the most exhausting and rewarding experiences I have all year.  I end up walking more miles per day than I want to know, am on my feet for 6+ hours a day, and don't get enough sleep. Last year, I literally wore holes in my shoes!  I miss my family terribly while I am gone. 


But, it also gives me the chance to renew my passion and enthusiasm for speech language pathologist, while surrounded by some of my best friends that I only get to see once or twice a year.  (Seriously, these ladies are amazing, and I am so proud to call them my colleagues and friends!)

I am surrounded by 14,000+ people from around the country that share my passion for communication.  I get to meet hundreds of them myself at our blogger booth, and make amazing new connections that I wouldn't otherwise. I have wonderful conversations with random strangers at our booth or in line to grab some food.  

I have the opportunity to share my ideas on a live stage with other SLPs who will go home and try them.  (Many thanks to my friends Hallie Sherman and Felice Clark for presenting with me!)  

I get pushed out of my comfort zone again and again in the five days I am away from home.  This is why I love the ASHA convention, and why you'll see me next year in LA!






I don't know about you, but I'm eagerly anticipating the 2016 ASHA Convention this week!  The 2015 convention in Denver was my first, and while it was a hectic trip, it was a great time.  I want to share with you some of my best tips for surviving - and thriving - at the ASHA Convention!

ATTIRE:

My number 1 tip?  Wear comfortable shoes.  Seriously, you will be walking MILES between your hotel, sessions, exhibit hall, and restaurants.  I literally walked a hole in my tennis shoes last year in Denver!  Make sure to have a back up pair, just in case.

As far as clothing, for the average convention attendee, business casual is fine.  Dressy jeans or nice pants and a top are perfectly appropriate.  If you plan on interviewing or are presenting, definitely dress up, but otherwise, whatever you are comfortable in and would normally wear to work is perfectly appropriate.

I would definitely recommend a light jacket or sweater, because many of the rooms can be quite chilly.

HOW DO I DECIDE WHAT SESSIONS TO GO TO?

I like to browse the Program Planner (sent to many attendees via mail in advance) to look at each time slot I have available and what topics I am interested in.  I usually have 2-3 that sound appealing to me based on my current caseload, and I will highlight those.  I also look for some of my favorite speakers in the field.  I try to narrow it down from there, keeping in mind that some popular sessions might fill up and I'll need a second choice option.

WHAT TO BRING TO SESSIONS:

Be aware that you likely will not have reliable wi-fi service during the sessions.  I like to download session handouts in the morning to my iPad, using the Notability app.  I also carry an old fashioned notebook in my tote bag, as well as a water bottle and snacks.

In most sessions, the chairs will be close together, and there won't be much room for a laptop.  If you prefer to take notes electronically, I would suggest an iPad and keyboard instead.

EXHIBIT HALL:

Make sure to allow for plenty of time at the Exhibit Hall!  In fact, I usually like to stop in for a bit each day, because it's just so huge and overwhelming.  Make sure to stop by the SLP Blogger Booth #514, where you can find me and 13 of my blogging buddies!  Here is when you can see me:



DON'T FORGET:

Don't forget to pack a portable battery charger!  You will run through your phone battery very quickly.

Make sure you have some snacks in your bag.  Lines for nearby restaurants can get VERY long, and you may end up having to choose between getting a lunch or missing the first part of a session you may be really interested in.

Also, if you're like me and completely directionally challenged, download the Citymapper app.  They have a version for Philadelphia that seems very helpful, as well as several other major cities.

GOOD TO KNOW:

There was a coat/bag check last year in Denver, which was handy, but they only took cash.  Make sure to have enough on hand if you plan on using the service!

Be friendly!  There are many SLPs you will see at ASHA that are by themselves or may not know anyone in line or at your session.  Take advantage of this to make new connections and friends!

Tell me, is there anything I forgot to include?




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FREE goal progress monitoring graphs for any speech and language goal!

Looking for a visual way to show your students' progress with their various speech and language goals?  I recently created these FREE graphs that I have been using with my own students.

FREE goal progress monitoring graphs for any speech and language goal!

For most of my students, we used the data from my progress monitoring sessions at the beginning of the year, and then again for first quarter progress reports.  I helped my younger students fill theirs out, while my older students were able to do it themselves with just a little guidance.  It really helps them take ownership of their goals and progress.

I love how easy it is for not only my students to see their own progress, but also for me to bring them to IEP meetings for their parents to see progress as well!

There are several different options available in this freebie to adapt to your students and their individual goals.  There are two pre-designed for articulation goals, where you can circle the position and level, while the others could be used to measure any speech or language goal.

FREE goal progress monitoring graphs for any speech and language goal!




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