Considerations for SAMLA Session Chairs

First Steps: Pre-Conference Responsibilities

■ Identify yourself as a session Chair:
  • Secretary-to-Chair Progression: If you served as a session Secretary at the previous year's conference, the SAMLA office automatically upgrades your role to Chair of that same session at the next year's conference. We will contact you by early February to request a Call for Papers (CFP). If you do not hear from the office by early February, please contact us at [email protected]
  • Chairing a Regular Session: If you are interested in chairing a Regular Session, please contact the SAMLA office directly to volunteer ([email protected]).
  • Chairing an Affiliated Group Session: If you are interested in chairing a session sponsored by Affiliated Group (e.g., The Hemingway Society, American Association of Teachers of French), SAMLA will first require approval from its Affiliated Group before you are approved to chair that session. You can either obtain pre-approval directly from your organization before contacting SAMLA, or you may contact SAMLA directly, and we can help you contact the organization to receive approval.
  • Chairing a Special Session: If you would like to chair a Special Session on a topic of your choice, please complete the CFP/Session Proposal Form as soon as possible, and include your name on the form as Chair. The CFP form is posted in January each year.
■ Submit a CFP/Session Proposal form: 
  • Submit CFP Form for publication both in SAMLA's annual newsletter and on the SAMLA website.
  • Deadline to submit a CFP/Session Proposal form the current year's conference. All Special Sessions must submit this form by May 15th for review and approval by the Program Committee. This form is required for all Special Sessions, even those with panelists in place that will not be publishing a CFP.  
■ Obtain Program Committee CFP-Approval:
  • CFP-Approval is automatic for Regular Sessions and Affiliated Group Sessions, as long as the chair has already been approved by SAMLA and (if applicable) the Affiliated Group.
  • Program Committee review is required for all Special Sessions. Upon submitting the CFP/Session Proposal form, your session description will be forwarded to the Committee for review. The office will email the chair as soon as the CFP is approved. In some cases, the Committee may request minor adjustments to CFP to maintain consistency with the spirit and goals of the SAMLA program.
■ Collect abstracts and select a full panel of 3-4 presenters for a traditional session format or more for roundtable and workshop formats. 
■ Notify presenters of acceptance:
  • Confirm that presenters will attend the conference
  • Verify accuracy of presenters' names, affiliations, email addresses, and paper titles
  • Obtain any A/V requirements
■ Submit Session Information form 
■ Process SAMLA membership for the current year: Final Program Committee approval for all sessions (Regular, Affiliated Groups, and Special) is contingent upon the chair's active membership status through the current conference year. If the session chair does not process membership by the deadline, the session is at risk of cancellation per the Program Committee's guidelines.


Before the Session

  • Introduce yourself to the speakers
  • Review brief biographical information for each speaker (speakers should have provided this to you)
  • Verify correct pronunciation of the names of the panelists
  • Ascertain any last-minute title changes or other needs
  • Set forth the amount of time each presenter will have for their paper
  • Determine whether assistance will be needed with handouts
  • Confirm requested technology is in place and operating


During the Session

■ Introduction

● Welcome all participants 
 Announce session title and purpose
 Distribute session attendance sheet
 Explain general format of the session 

■ Paper Presentations

 Monitor time of presentations—discreetly notify panelists when they are coming close to the end of their time (three minute warning)

■ Q & A

 Oversee questions and encourage discussion

■ Future Conference and Call For Papers (CFPs) Discussions

 Confirm and introduce the secretary  who will also serve as chair for the next year (special sessions may not already have a secretary designated)

 Give the secretary a few minutes to discuss the CFP topics for the next year

 If a topic arises for a special session proposal, discuss the possibility of a panel or CFPs for the next conference; designate a chair

 Announce conference theme and CFP information contained in chair packet

 Close the session on time and thank attendees


After the Session

■ Confirm the attendance sheet reflects the chair for the next annual conference, if applicable

■ Place the form “Attendance Sheets” back into the envelope located on the table at the front of the room

■ If you inadvertently take the form with you, please either drop it off at the pre-paid registration table or send it to [email protected] (email as an attachment)


Click here for a list of current SAMLA deadlines.