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November 2010

Javits Frasier Scholarship

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Where Teachers Become Students

Wake up early, get dressed, pack the books, catch the “bus” or walk, arrive, take a seat, and prepare to learn. Most school-aged children follow this daily morning routine, but for a few days in early November, thousands of educators return to the foundational roots of what led them to education in the first place, an environment enriched by exceptional teachers.

Like many of you, I’ve just returned from NAGC’s Annual Convention in Atlanta, where individuals from across the country and abroad became a “class” of thousands before some of the best and brightest minds in education. There were action labs, pre-conference sessions, mini-keynotes, general sessions, posters, and enough daily “classes” scheduled to overwhelm even the best vice-principle of academics. Hands-on, lecture, group work, and independent learning were just a few of the delivery methods used by the presenters.

Inside the halls of the center and the hotels, folks conversed, listened, offered ideas, received advice, and at times, participated in one-on-one meetings. Physical education was present in the form of speed walking, lunch was quick and loud, and I am sure that some folks took advantage of a little nap time. Cupcakes and cookies provided an afternoon snack, the exhibit hall served as a “book fair," friends gathered socially “after school," and new connections were made. With each passing day, participants filled their brains with new and exciting research-based practices and ideas. There was even a virtual “school” in the form of a digitally transmitted conference for those who could not be in attendance. Some of these educators led discussions, attended and organized “meetings, clubs, and activities” and even had the opportunity to present to their peers. All in all, it was a mammoth conference, and one that I’ll remember and reflect on during the year ahead.

As I reflect on the long and at times exhausting few days, one clear difference emerges between our Convention and the experience of many gifted teachers and student; each and every “student” in Atlanta was allowed to be him- or herself on a social, emotional, and educational level. Starting tomorrow, and each day after that, I will think a little differently of the students who wake up early, get dressed, pack the books, catch the “bus” or walk, arrive, take a seat and prepare to learn. It is what happens next, when the class is quiet and the teacher begins to speak, that makes all the difference.

Be sure to visit NAGC’s Live Learning Center, where you’ll be able to access the recorded sessions from this year’s convention, complete with handouts. Relive a session over again or listen to one you missed.

For those of you who would like to read an in-depth, 4 day report of the conference, visit Tamara Fisher’s Teacher Magazine Blog, Unwrapping the Gifted.