#Eval2016 Week: Liz Zadnik on Evaluation 2016: Absorbing it all!

Hi there!  Liz Zadnik, aea365’s Outreach Coordinator here, with my first-timer perspective on the conference.  Fate has intervened the past few years, so I was thrilled when the stars aligned and I was able to be here.  I have learned so much and been in non-stop awe, from the opening plenary (#Breart) to the poster presentations to each session facilitator.  Writing this post was a bit of a challenge – I want to adequately convey all that’s happened.   

Rad Resources:   

  • The Evaluation 2016 app has really helped me feel a little more organized and connected to goings-on.  I loved that it was a one stop shop for social media conversations, contacts, and notes.  It kept me from fumbling with a notebook.  
  • TIG Business Meetings are phenomenal ways to connect with like-minded professionals.  I’m not a particularly outgoing or gregarious person, so more structured social events help me feel more at ease.  I also loved chatting with folks who I’ve admired from afar for years.  
  • I’m a sucker for poster presentations so I had to spend some time talking with authors and appreciating the vast array of projects and knowledge in that space.  I’m also a bit of a design enthusiast and love to hear the process of how folks decide to present their work.  

Hot Tip: Social media is your friend.  Can’t attend a session?  Check out #Eval2016 and #eval16 from time to time and see what nuggets folks share from that session (and others).  I loved reading the brilliance that was spilling out of every session and interaction throughout the conference. I definitely found some new Twitter accounts to follow!

Lesson Learned: Breathe.  I was so overwhelmed leading up to and the first day or two of the conference.  I wanted to wake up at the crack of dawn and attend every possible session.  But after a few hours, my mind was all jumbly and nothing seemed to be absorbing.  So I prioritized specific sessions, but also made time to eat, synthesize my thoughts, and brainstorm topics for future blog posts and projects.  I felt guilty at first, but then realized this time to process and reflect helped me feel energized and present throughout the day.   

Being here has been a real treat – time that has energized me and deepened my love of evaluation.  I can’t wait for what tomorrow brings.  Thanks to everyone who has made this conference possible!  My calendar is already marked for next year!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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