Wednesday, March 23, 2011
To Seattle and back again
Wow my first NAEA conference, I feel like I have experienced an art teacher right of passage. My experience was a bit of a roller coaster of ups and downs, but over all great.
I left my school at lunch on Thursday and took the train up to Seattle. Everything was smooth going till someone in another train car had a medial emergency and we had to stop for the paramedics to show up. We got into Seattle late and I started the walk to the hotel... Seattle is a hilly place...I hadn't realized the entire walk would be uphill. After doing a Little Engine Who Could walk I arrived at the convention center to discover registration had closed before I got there! There would be no party at the EMP for me that night! The #1 thing I was looking forward to!!! Degected I went to the hotel to check in and stupidly I went out looking for food alone, at 8:30pm, downtown...with all these drunk people yelling at me...whhhaaa? oh duh it's St. Patty's Day! So let's just say my first "day" of the conference was a bust.
From then on things got better. The hotel was great, the convention center was a nice location, a lot of the session I attended were informative, I meet interesting people from all over the country and I brought a LOT of free materials back home with me.
At the same time I found the conference overwhelming at many times. The number of sessions going on each hour was amazing but a lot of the descriptions were trying to sound really cerebral and impressive and my brain went to mush trying to sort through them. I attended a few session that were not what I thought they would be. But a few made the whole conference worth it. If I could sum up the top five lessons I learned from going to the conference they would be....
1. Go with someone else. Be able to divided and conquer the sessions, have someone to eat with and meet up with at the end of the day. I defiantly started having more fun when I started hanging out with the other teachers from my district.
2. Look at the session booklet before you go and choose a few you want to do ahead of time! Don't wait till 5 min before the next session is going to start.
3. Take a good camera. Almost all the presentations I went to had powerpoint presentations but no handouts and no blog or place to post their presentation afterward. If you wanted examples of the lesson being presented you needed to take photos of the photos in the powerpoint. My crummy point and shoot could not zoom close enough and the flash was to weak to get good photos during presentations. Very frustrating.
4. If you don't have to fly, and can take unlimited liquids in the trunk of your friend's car, then go work that vendor floor right as they are breaking down for the conference. I got a lot of acrylic paint from vendors who did not want to ship it back and those around me could not fly with the liquids. I haulled home about 5 huge bags of free stuff;)
5. Take time to have some fun. Go try the sample projects at the vendor tables (even if you never will do them in your classroom) chat with someone new, hang out with the other teachers from your district and see a whole new side of them. If you have the time and energy go see the city a bit...they were offering amazing discounts at the art hot spots around town.
Will I go to the conference next year....I'm not sure. The cost of flying to New York and paying for a hotel their seems overwhelming from Oregon. I would want to stay an extra week to see New York as a tourist and therefore would want my husband to join me at some point. I think the cost of the conference itself is totally reasonable and worthwhile!