There is nothing, absolutely nothing, so professionally invigorating and exciting to a teacher as going to a major convention. Imagine if you would, your best teacher back when you were a student. What was she/he like? Did this person have a true passion about their field? Did they do interesting things to catch your attention? And of course they must have touched your heart and made you feel special in some way.
Now imagine hundreds of such teachers, or better yet thousands! All in one place and all of who are in your own area of specialty, be it reading, science, art, etc. And while we are daydreaming here lets add two more things. Of all of these best teachers, the very best are presenting workshops and presiding over meetings to help the rest of the best improve their art. Second, and this is the coolest part – all of these teachers are genuinely glad that you are there. They simply want to share with you their passion, their hints and their bags of tricks. No drama in these halls, simply positive sharing of ideas and ideals.
What I have describe happens many times a year throughout the nation. In science, for example, there are three regional and one national event each year in the national organization (www.nsta.org). The attendance is in the thousands. There are hundreds of workshops, hundreds of vendors, dozens of exciting field trips and many organized social activities. There is literally something for everyone. I have never (chorus repeats in the background “no, never”) seen somebody attend one of these who have not changed their professional outbook, their methodology or even their worldview. If this sounds like a heady event that has potential for being life-changing it is because it is so.
The NSTA is not the only organization that puts on science conventions. There is also the NABT (strictly biology) and there are many more. One that rivals the NSTA meetings is the Texas Association of Science Teachers. Again, there are thousands of teachers, hundreds of workshops and vendors, and dozens of great field trips. This year it will be in Corpus Christi, Texas! You can anticipate loads of limnolology, beckoning beaches and, well, oceans of oceanography teaching ideas.
The dates are November 8-10 and I hope to see you there!