In November, our Board President, two other board members, and I attended the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Conference in Indianapolis. Here are a few things I learned; some are serious, and some are not so serious.
First, let's start with the serious, and I’ll include the caveat that I am not an educator. I’m the wife of a teacher and the mother of a now college-aged, advanced learner. Many of the ideas and concepts presented at the workshops were directly related to the classroom. However, though I’m not a teacher, I was able to bring some of the ideas I learned back and quiz my husband. I thought that there were a few ideas that he could use in his classroom. A number of the breakout sessions reminded me of when my son was in K-12 education. It was interesting to talk to him about what I learned and how he thought those suggestions would have worked for him. He thought some ideas would have worked, and others not. With both of these discussions with my family, I was reminded that advanced learners are not a monolithic group. They have different strengths and challenges, different interests, and different ways of learning. This is something I think everyone needs to remember.
I’d like to share another serious realization that I had during the parent workshops. During many of the sessions, I found myself thinking “boy, did I screw that up!” I learned so many things to do and not do in those sessions. It was difficult not to reflect on the things I could have done better as a parent. Whether it was general parenting or advocacy at school, I focused on what I should have done when my son was younger. However, as I was talking to someone at the conference about this, they corrected me. The message was this: We are all doing our best in whatever situation we have. It’s easy to look back in hindsight and there is no guarantee that a different path would have changed anything at all. As parents, we need to take this information and share it with others but realize that loving our children and doing what is best at the time is what matters. This is another thing I think everyone needs to remember.
And now for a few not-so-serious, tongue-in-cheek items from my time in Indianapolis:
Indianapolis may be south of Wisconsin, but it was not much warmer. There wasn’t much snow to speak of. However, the day after I arrived, the windchill was around 30 degrees and they had a light dusting overnight, and…school was delayed for 2 hours! This made me, a northern Wisconsin gal, laugh.
I also compared our WATG conference to NAGC’s conference, and I’d like to give a pat on the back to our annual conference planners. At the WATG conference, we had free coffee throughout the morning each day. There was no such thing at the NAGC conference. In fact, there was one Starbucks in the main conference area and the line extended all the way down a long hallway each day. People waited an hour for a cup of coffee! After the first day, I realized I should stock up at the hotel before I left.
Finally, at NAGC they had some interesting lanyards and I think we should all wear them daily in our normal everyday lives. White lanyards signified, “I’ve missed you; it’s OK to hug me.” Green signified, “I’ve missed seeing you; can we bump elbows for now?” And blue signified, “I’ve missed seeing you, but I do need some space between us.” I couldn’t help but think of how helpful that would be at the grocery store, school, or work!
All in all, my experience at NAGC was an excellent learning experience. I know that what I learned will help me in my job as Executive Director at WATG.
Roxane Hagedorn, Executive Director, WATG
WATG extends a huge thank you to Dr. German Diaz of Milwaukee Public Schools for translating this article into Spanish for our families and educators who speak Spanish. The translation can also be found on our website.