Leaves and dampness filled the cool room air. The smell of fresh rain trickled through the slightly open window as the alarm was silenced.
Coming to consciousness slowly, I smiled despite the possible weather setback; today I was headed to the fall JEA (Journalism Education Association) and NSPA (National Scholastic Press Association) convention in Washington D.C. where I’d have the opportunity to share learning with some of my favorite people and meet some new folks face to face who have become an important part of my PLN.
Since I joined JEA, I have always felt at home. Like minded journalism educators, passionate about writing and storytelling. It was a perfect fit. Every convention I’ve been to since the first has been a reaffirmation of the connection.
As educators, too often we feel isolated or alone in our schools and the same way Twitter brings people together electronically daily, a convention is an opportunity to make those essential face to face connections that may be more challenging to orchestrate.
In addition to be greeted by many hugs and smiles (who doesn’t like being recognized by old friends?), I listened to Bob Woodward speak about his career as the opening keynote speaker. How often do we get to sit in the company of greatness?
Along with anecdotes from his career, he oftered young journalists advice:
- Use your resources wisely and remember that people are our greatest resources
- Get your story, don’t passively wait for it come to you
- Explore the world, get out of the newsroom
- Be persistent
- Seek the most attainable truth from sources
Appropriately so, he applauded subversive teachers, those of us who are willing to stand up for what we believe to be right even if it isn’t what the rules say are appropriate, making the connection to Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. It was a good reminder to fight the good fight, because it’s worth it.
That’s what conventions do, they not only teach us new things, but they remind of essential truths that are too easily forgotten while existing in the grind.
When I arrived in DC today, I wasn’t 100% what the day would bring specifically, but I knew it would be worthwhile. As the next few days unfold, I’m certain I will connect with old friends, make new friends and learn, returning to work more inspired and invigorated with learning to share with my students.
Our greatest resources are people and conventions for professional organizations are filled with exemplary folks in our fields. It’s worth it to take the time to get involved: attend a conference, participate in a chat or volunteer to hold a position. However you contribute, it will be worthwhile.
How have professional organizations helped you improve as a teacher? Please share
The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.