Hi everyone! I’m Leigh M. Tolley, Assistant Professor, Secondary Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Past Chair of the PreK-12 Educational Evaluation Topical Interest Group (TIG), and member of AEA’s TIG Council Group on Conference Quality and Logistics. This year will be my ninth AEA conference, and I foresee many more in my future!
A big part of why I love coming to the AEA conference each year is catching up with old friends and colleagues and making new friends and connections. I have always found AEA members in all stages of their careers to be friendly, welcoming, and willing to chat with and learn from others. TIGs are an integral part of why I feel AEA is my “professional home.”
Lessons Learned: TIGs help you grow professionally. At my second AEA conference in 2011, I decided to check out a few TIG business meetings and find ways to possibly get involved as a doctoral student. While at the PreK-12 TIG’s business meeting, they asked for volunteers to be Members-at-Large, and I raised my hand. I have been a Member-at-Large or part of the Program Chair and Chair teams—we have elect, current, and past positions for each in our TIG—ever since. Through these roles, I have been able to develop an excellent network, gain experience in leadership, and better understand the proposal submission and review process, which all help me tremendously as a tenure-track academic and evaluation practitioner.
Hot Tip: Business meetings are open to all AEA members, not just current TIG leaders. Don’t let the name fool you: these are non-stuffy, collegial sessions where like-minded folks can come together to share ideas, learn more about what works in their areas of expertise, and discover ways to engage with AEA.
Hot Tip: Take advantage of myriad opportunities to interact with TIG members while at Evaluation 2018! There will be TIG Tables set up during the Poster Exhibit and Meet the Authors session on Wednesday, and TIG Receptions for groups of TIGs and TIG Business Meetings will be held on Thursday evening. Information will be posted by the Registration Desk during the conference, where you can also pick up badge ribbons to represent your TIGs.
Hot Tip: Members of AEA may join up to five TIGs as part of membership. To join, view, or change your TIGs, log on to the AEA main site, then select Preferences and Update TIG Selections from the far right of the top menu.
Rad Resource: Check out the many different TIGs AEA has to offer on the Topical Interest Groups page of the AEA website. There are almost 60 TIGs, including those focused on research methods, special groups, and the theory, practice, and teaching of evaluation itself. Two new TIGs to check out this year are the Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) TIG, open to GEDI alumni as well as all AEA members interested in the program; and the Health Professions Education Evaluation and Research TIG.
See you soon in Cleveland!
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