I’ve been to enough conferences over the past 16-years that I’ve lost count. Of those, the Psych One conference hosted by Stanford’s Psychology department is hands-down the best.
First, the content of the conference is inherently relevant to my own teaching. I teach AP Psychology, and the conference is for professors of collegiate introductory psychology courses. The curriculum sessions are either what we currently teach, or what we ought to be teaching. I appreciate that most of the presenters assume that the audience knows the content, and so there is no wasted time of telling us what we already know; instead, the curriculum sessions are about making novel connections between concepts, or advocating for certain skills to be taught and assessed. Even the instruction sessions, which focus on pedagogy, are applicable to my high school classes. True, some of the professors in attendance teach classes of hundreds, whereas my sessions are never larger than 30, but many of the principles of instruction apply. For example, a common topic was investigating instructional strategies that allow students to be active at some points in what are otherwise largely lecture-based classes — that is absolutely something that I need and want.
In addition to the content of the conference being welcome, the people who choose to attend the conference make it great. These are great professors, who know their subject well, who want to be excellent teachers, and many are also researchers. It’s great to be able to talk to researchers about their work and ask them questions (like asking Danny Oppenheimer about his investigations into peer-evaluations); and it’s quite helpful to talk to college professors about their classes. There is a persistent myth among fellow high school teachers that college courses are simply made of lectures, a paper or two, a Midterm, and a Final. I asked around, and not a single professor’s class is like that — every one of them is far more dynamic, far more labor-intensive, and far more rigorous than the myth would have us believe.
I would love to see a similar conference organized for high school teachers, and would likely attend that if able. However, given the population of SI and the students that I get, attending a conference for college professors might still be a better fit. I can’t recommend the Psych One conference enough.