So, imagine an opportunity for dozens of conversations just like that one... a chance to connect with hundreds of like-minded educators, learn from the best, and spend time with my colleagues (and, let's be honest... a few days off school.) These are several of the reasons that I've looked forward to our North Carolina Christian School Association annual convention ever since I started attending as a (clueless) college junior. It's easy, as a teacher, to occasionally feel as if you're on an island... no one understands my frustrations with the curriculum... no one understands this parent issue... no one understands my discipline struggles... no one understands my total dependence on caffeine! (Right?) So when we are able to get away for a couple of days to "regroup," if you will, with our "own kind," it makes a huge difference! Talk about life-giving moments! Simply having the chance to talk to other English teachers about what we have in common to deal with on a daily basis is incredibly uplifting.
Not to mention, this year's sessions were some of the best I've ever attended. Because you care, here are the workshops I chose:
"Catching Fish or Cutting Bait?"- this session on attention-grabbers (and keepers!) by Cathy Dotson was fantastic. A lot of her ideas were geared more for the younger grades, but let's keep it real... teenagers are just overgrown kids. They love silly songs and rhymes just like the little kids do.
"Dealing with the Needs of Difficult Students"- If I thought that this session title "spoke" to me, I was certainly not alone since the room was packed! Travis Moots did an excellent job outlining different types of challenging behavior (unmotivated, socially awkward, defiant, etc.) and how to deal with it without (completely) losing it. =)
"Teamwork in the Classroom"- great ideas for group projects and using them to teach shared responsibility while promoting personal contributions. Also, Travis Moots (again) talked about teamwork between parents and the teacher... always a necessary topic. Awesome material.
"Nip It!"- Cathy Dotson is the bomb, for real. Her session on conflict resolution and the elephant in today's classroom- bullying- was so helpful and spot-on. I plan on going back over these notes often.
"The Well-Prepared Teacher"- okay, I was basically a Travis Moots groupie, but all three of his workshops were very needed, at least for me! This one offered lots of helpful tips on lesson planning, time management, and goals and objectives. (As a perpetual procrastinator, I knew I needed to implement this stuff ASAP.)
Russ Moots, the great and powerful.
"Developing Student Accountability and Responsibility"- Nothing makes me feel like a kid like going to a session taught by a college professor, but Mr. (Russ) Moots was so relevant and practical, as always. Most kids today really have no concept of personal responsibility, so... it falls to us to teach them! He gave lots of great ways to incorporate that into the classroom. Of course, it totally took me back to college; I kind of expected a quiz at the end. =) Takeaway quote: "Know the difference between viewing teaching as a job and viewing teaching as a ministry."
Also, the general sessions were just awesome... all three speakers were incredible and there is just something about being in a room with several hundred teachers, singing and praising and laughing at jokes that only teachers truly appreciate. It's awesome, I tell you! Awesome!
And since we can't have all work and no play... =)
Late night Krispy Kreme trip? Check! (I'll say it again... it is a TRAVESTY that KK has not made its way to New Bern.)
One of my favorite things about the convention is seeing friends that live far away. My BFF Sara teaches first grade so this has become our annual, "Yay! We get to see each other!" time. And since no time together would be complete without it, of course we went shopping.
And speaking of shopping... and clothes, one of the things that I (shocker) always stress out about is what to wear to this thing. I have these odd little opinions about certain events and outfits, and (I told you, I'm a weirdo) I have some outfits that look "teacher-ish" to me. (Whatever... I know it's dumb.) So, I want to look professional but be comfortable for walking around for hours all day and hustling from session to session (and making laps around the mall.)
This dress turned out to be just right... it's got fall colors, matched my orange cardigan, and even added to my slightly insane collection of tie-front garments. Win, win, win.
Dress: c/o eShakti
Shoes: old (Cato?)
I ditched the belt after a while because, well... a girl's gotta breathe. =)
I do love ordering from cool online stores so that a) I know everyone won't be in the exact same outfit, and b) I can customize the dress (thanks to this cool feature!) My only complaint about these dresses is that they seem to run SO small through the waist... but maybe I should just let that be a motivation to lay off the Krispy Kremes? =)
I so recommend a convention like this. I got tons of great ideas and feel more motivated than I have in a while to be more productive and proactive in my work. My advice, then, is to get yourself around someone who has the same job you do, share every little concern with each other, solve the world's problems, then go home and realize that hey, maybe you still have to deal with the same stuff, but at least you're not the only one. =) There's strength in numbers, friends. Solidarity! Power to the people! I have a dream! Okay... fine, I just want another donut. Let's share one.