As an educator, and like all of you, I have always been keenly interested in learning. Over the years I have attended countless classes, workshops, and conferences, and often thought of these opportunities as “booster shots,” a way to keep me engaged, up-to-date, immunized against complacency and mediocrity, and strengthening me to continually grow professionally.
As WATG begins to heavily promote our annual fall conference, “Revolutionizing the Basics: Making Education WORK for Gifted Students,” at the Wilderness Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells on October 3 and 4th, I decided to google “why attend conferences,” and to share some ideas with you, ideas from others, and some of my own.
Whether you are a student, one of our teen conference participants, a parent, an educator, an administrator, or part of the business world, and community, these reasons will get you thinking about why conferences get great minds joining together in the pursuit of knowledge.
First of all, we gain inspiration and refreshment at a conference. October is the perfect time of year to rejuvenate our thinking, to try new ideas, to meet new people, to engage in thoughtful conversation, and to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. Each year I look forward to catching up with my “tribe” of fellow gifted educators, community leaders, teens, and parents, and to meet new people and hear their stories and ideas. This networking provides valuable contacts, and opens new pathways to think about our passion for gifted kids, their families, and their education.
A second reason I am so passionate about conferences is that I get to meet my role models in person. I often joke about my two main “professional crushes,” Dr. Joyce Van-Tassel-Baska in gifted education, and Rick Wormeli in middle school education, general education, and gifted education. I have had the great fortune of working with each of them, and attending workshops and conferences where they have been keynote speakers. It is so exhilarating to be able to “pick the brain” (in real time) of someone whose work you so greatly admire. Who are your “professional crushes”? Who would you like to converse with, or ask questions and share ideas with? Perhaps this person/these people will be at our WATG conference! There is an excellent chance that you will meet someone/s who will expand your thinking, or will be a future contact to share personal or professional information. Every year, long-lasting personal and professional friendships are made and renewed at the WATG conference.
Two other great reasons to attend conferences include attending workshops that stretch your thinking, or presenting workshops to stretch the thinking of others. Our lineup of presenters and topics this year is rich and varied, and we are very proud of the people who have come forth to share their knowledge and expertise. I challenge each of you to explore some area that expands your horizons at our conference this year, and to choose to attend something like the mini-conference/cocktail hour, where you can bounce your ideas off of others.
Finally, attending a conference is an investment in your future, and the future of your children and our children. I often use the analogy that “a mind, like a rubber band, is elastic, and when it stretches, it never goes back to its exact shape.” So it is with our field of gifted education -- when we stretch ourselves by attending conferences, we will never go back to where we were -- educationally, professionally, or personally.
I look forward to touching base with all of you at our fall annual conference in October. Let’s REVOLUTIONIZE our thinking and reignite our passion and commitment!
Jacquelyn Drummer, Past President and Board Advisor
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.