Making the most of the GA annual conference

As another long term draws to an end and the Easter holidays loom on the horizon, for many Geography teachers the Geographical Association Annual Conference is an exciting date in the diary! Despite having thrown myself into the wider geography community in the first few years of my career, this year will be my first visit to the GA conference and its something I’m very much looking forward to.  This blog is my personal thoughts about preparing to make the most from the Conference.

This year’s theme is ‘Real Life Geography’ and the sessions offered throughout the conference offer a vast array of insights, tips & viewpoints on how to bring the subject into the real world. Time then, to work out what to attend…

Sitting with the conference programme in front of me, starting to plan my visit, I felt slightly overwhelmed by the sheer variety and quality of sessions on offer. It forced me to sit down and critically reflect on where our department is, where I feel my areas of development for teaching geography lie and thus which sessions will enable me to benefit the most from the experience.

What are my priorities?

  1. Teaching and Learning Ideas

For me, the best kind of CPD is that where I leave with my head spinning of wonderful ideas to put into place within our geography department as soon as possible. So, looking through the programme, here are my top five picks for sessions I’d like to attend for this aim:

Friday 6th April

  • Workshop 7: The dynamic rock cycle: investigative hands-on activities
  • Workshop 18: Secondary Geography Quality Mark: 15 creative ideas for quality geography teaching
  • Workshop 22: Making migration, urban centres and climate change relatable

Saturday 7th April

  • Workshop 43: How to Plan a ‘brilliant’ residential with maximum impact
  • Workshop 58: Practical resources to support the teaching of place making
  1. Embedding GIS further into all of our departmental schemes of work.

Whilst my GIS use is (slowly) increasing, it is still limited to the older year groups and specific topics. For this reason, I’d like to come away from the conference with refreshed enthusiasm and inspiration of how to embed GIS into my teaching.

Here’s my top five picks of sessions linked to GIS:

Friday 6th April

  • Lecture Plus 1: Mapping London from the classroom
  • Workshop 13: The Census: Representing the real world of work?
  • Teacher-to-teacher: Survey 123: easy integration of GIS for GCSE and A-Level investigations
  • Workshop 17: Real world GIS- data analysis with ArcGIS online
  • Workshop 30: Practical ideas for using GIS in the geography classroom
  1. Subject Knowledge

My third priority for the conference is to expose myself to developments in the subject- after all, I am a geographer as much as a geography teacher! Building and maintaining my subject knowledge has always been important to me and is something I strive for amongst the business of term time. The opportunity therefore to attend sessions that allow me to engage in the subject of Geography is exciting!

Five subject knowledge sessions that stand out to me are:

Friday 6th April

  • Lecture Plus 12: The business of geography: from the River Gwash to M&S
  • Lecture 17: Humans as agents of geological change in the Anthropocene
  • Lecture Plus 20: The Arctic’s changing environment and its impact for the UK

Saturday 7th April

  • Lecture 25: Whose development? Power politics and space in development geography
  • Lecture 29: Changing the contemporary subject: neither urban nor rural

So, there’s the start of my plan for the conference. If you have any tips or ideas for making the most of the GA Conference, I’d love to hear them!

Kate will be live tweeting from the Oxford Geography account during the GA conference – follow us on twitter to stay updated

Kate StockingsKate Stockings completed her PGCE at the University of Cambridge 2014-2015 and is currently completing her Masters in Education. She joined Roding Valley High School as an NQT in September 2015 and took over as Head of Department in June 2016.


One thought on “Making the most of the GA annual conference

  1. Stephen Schwab says:

    Been going since 1973! Go to lectures/workshops, hear keynote speakers, go to the exhibition, see GA special groups/committees stands, enjoy!

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