I have been a teacher for over 22 years. In that time I have never attended the NJEA Teachers’ Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. I know that sounds a bit unbelievable but I have always used the extra days off to relax, reboot, and rejuvenate myself before the busy holiday season.
For those of you that don’t know anything about this event it draws educators from all over New Jersey who participate in over 300 seminars, workshops, and programs. It is one of the largest educational gatherings of its kind in the world.
This year I attended the convention as a presenter in the High Tech Hall. I was asked to represent Google EDU by Rich Kiker from Kiker Learning, LLC. This was the first time Google was invited by NJEA to have a space and present all things Google to the convention attendees. It was a great experience and I want to share with you what you need to know about this awesome opportunity for professional growth.
- Energy! – This event was full of energy. From the hands-on maker space, Smart Board training, the Flipped Classroom to the dozens of vendors and exhibitions – the energy was palpable. You could feel it everywhere you went. Educators from all over New Jersey were spending their days off from work learning from one another, exploring new technologies, and listening to keynote speakers in order to grow themselves as professionals.
- Professional Development – There were countless opportunities to enhance your career skills. With over 300 sessions to choose from you were guaranteed to find a workshop that met your needs. In fact, there were so many that it was hard to choose which one to attend. There were plenty of hands-on opportunities, interactive presentations and dynamic demonstrations that kept you engaged all day.
- Networking – One of my favorite parts of this event was the opportunity to meet people. I had the opportunity for face-to-face conversations with people I already “knew” from Twitter. There was time to connect with friends who I don’t get to see very often and to meet new people to grow my PLN. There were some fun “after hours” events also to cut loose, relax and just have some fun. Networking doesn’t always have to be about work!
Here is a quick shout out to some awesome people I had the pleasure of spending time and having conversations with these past two days: Rich Kiker (@rkiker), Chris McCaffrey (@mccchr), Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett), Melissa Butler (@AngelinaShy), Barry Saide (@barrykid1), Meredith Martin (@geekyteach) and Dan Borghoff (@danborghoff)
My take-away: make the time to grow yourself professionally and take advantage of professional organizations who organize these events. The NJEA Convention was well worth the long drive and the two days away from home. I hope to make it back there again next year.