Reaching the Summit
There is nothing like the feeling of getting ready to attend an NAGC Convention! I know that despite exhaustion, looming deadlines, and work to catch up on at school when I return the smile on my face and the thoughts and excitement I feel will carry me along during my slow introduction back to the daily classroom schedule.
In many ways the NAGC Annual Convention in Denver will be like a school and the attendees from across the country the "class." Pre-conference sessions, mini-keynotes, general sessions, poster presentations, and daily "classes" will present a jam-packed schedule. Hands-on practice, lecture, group work, and independent learning will ensure that there is truly something for everyone. Attendees will attend and organize "meetings, clubs, and activities" intended to create learning communities and support NAGC's ongoing projects and goals. Inside the halls of the hotel and convention center, folks will converse, listen, offer ideas, receive advice, and participate in one-on-one meetings. Physical education will be present in the form of speed walking, escalator riding, and button pushing. Lunch will be quick, and I am sure that some folks will take advantage of a little nap time. There will be afternoon snacks, some play time, a resource room, and book fair in the form of an exhibit hall. Friends will gather socially "after school," and new friendships will be made. The arts will be spotlighted on several occasions, and planned "assemblies" provide time to hear from our leaders about the current state of the field. Awards are to be given to new and veteran educators recognized for their contributions to the field of gifted and talented education and their dedication to NAGC and its mission. With each passing day, participants are sure to fill their brains with new and exciting research-based practices and ideas.
When I look to the schedule of events, it is clear that new advocacy and communications of "our" work is underway. Most exciting is the new work with the Common Core State Standards that resulted in two new publications, Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners and Using the Common Care State Standards for Mathematics with Gifted and Advanced Learners and the new NAGC report on low-income, high-ability students, Unlocking Emergent Talent. Both topics will also be the focus of many sessions during the convention.
My convention experience will be a huge success if I can assimilate just a tiny percentage of the enthusiasm for learning that emanates from the exceptional teacher leaders at the convention. I know that when I return to my classroom I will think a little differently of the students who wake up early, get dressed, pack the books, catch the bus or walk, take their seats, 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. See you in Denver!