My first full day in Atlanta is turning out to be rather quiet. This is the day of the pre-conference workshops – the “real” conference begins tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to a little more noise and activity.
Many of the signs of a conference are evident. Groups of people are strolling or bustling through the wide and windowless hotel corridors, looking at signs and room names. We carry our NBPTS logo tote bags and try not to spill our coffee, as we peer at the session titles on foam core poster board resting on easels outside the meeting rooms. We sit in rows at long narrow tables, listen to speakers and watch PowerPoint presentations, taking notes on handouts with reduced versions of the slides on the screen.
And yet, I haven’t stood in any lines so far. I haven’t had to wait around to try to get a question answered by a presenter. Now, between sessions, I can clearly hear the hotel’s background music that should be lost in the buzz of conversation outside the conference rooms. I’m not sure how I feel about Pearl Jam being part of that lobby soundtrack, but I have enough peace and quiet to sit here and ponder it until the Beatles come on.
One constant remains, as far as education conferences go: the women seem to outnumber the men about three-to-one. Hotel management has wisely converted at least one restroom for female use by taping up some new signs.
Perhaps it is due to the troubled economy that the pre-conference workshops are not very full. The costs do add up - one more fee to pay, one more night in a hotel, a few more meals. Two years ago in Washington D.C., the NBPTS pre-conference workshops felt like a part of the main event right away. I hope the next time I get up from this hallway lounge chair and go upstairs to the main lobby, I’ll find it growing crowded, loud, full of my travel-weary fellow NBCTs trying to check into the hotel, filling up the tables in the bar and restaurant, and cramming in the elevator until the warning buzzer goes off! Let’s get this conference started!
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