Well, folks, it’s that time of year again. If you’re not heading out of town or planning some restful activity to recharge your batteries, you may be headed to the NJEA annual convention in Atlantic City, November 8-9. If you’ve attended before, you know that the sheer number of PD offerings, meetups and educational vendor experiences can be overwhelming. Look at the NJEA convention schedule for 2018 below and map out a plan ahead of time that can help you to make the most of your day (or two). If you plan your time right, this one-stop-shopping educator event can introduce you to new approaches or technologies, new connections with colleagues, and, of course, LOTS of free stuff.
Tip #1: Plan ahead.
The Convention App. When attending the NJEA convention it is really important to plan ahead. Your first step should be to download the NJEA app. This app will make it easy for you to optimize your time at the convention by creating a personalized schedule. The app also allows you the opportunity to access workshop materials and to save memories during your convention experience, like videos and photos.
This year’s good cause. Plan ahead to make a donation to Sister Jean’s Kitchen! Each year, during the convention, the NJEA highlights and donates to a selected organization or cause. This year, donations will be made to Sister Jean’s Kitchen, an organization that provides a warm meal once a day to the homeless or hungry people of Atlantic City, often serving a minimum of 350 meals a day. In addition to a warm meal, they provide those in need, a quiet space for reflection, clothing and other donated items that are available. Visit booth 1839 to make a donation to this deserving cause. Consider extending the community support to your classroom by beginning a fundraiser or donation collection for Sister Jean’s Kitchen. For more information see page 9 of the program.
Child care. Here is something you don’t have to plan on your own! Kiddiecorp will provide child care to NJEA members attending the conference. The hours are Thursday, Nov. 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 9 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Your children will have the opportunity to participate in activities, crafts and games while you get your PD on! For more information see page 8 of the program.
Tip #2: Make the most of your time!
Make sure you get your professional development hours counted! The steps have been streamlined into an easy digital process. When you enter a professional learning session a room attendant will scan your badge. To receive your certificate you must follow a few easy steps that will be sent to you via email. Be sure to follow through with the full process by December 1st. For more information see page 8 of the program. Also, if you would like a refresher on what counts towards your professional development hours, check out page 30.
The convention is always the place to hear great speakers who truly understand the needs of the New Jersey educational community. This year is no exception, and you will want to attend the Keynote address given by Jacqueline Woodson, the New York Times best-selling author of “Black Girls Dream.” The buzz among teachers is the collective anticipation of hearing the new Commissioner of Education, Lamont Repollet, address the conference. Repollet is the former superintendent of schools for the Asbury Park School district, and he was recently sworn in to his new position on June 19, 2018. Repollet is a known advocate for eliminating PARCC testing throughout the state. He will be a part of a Q&A panel with other members of the New Jersey State Board of Education. For more information see page 23 of the program.
It would be impossible to mention all of the amazing opportunities for professional learning at the conference. I recommend that you spend some time with the program and peruse what is available. If you are seeking a traditional seminar, refer to pages 30-52. If you are seeking technology specific training, the convention has a particularly exciting opportunity for learning: Digital Boulevard. The Digital Boulevard is offering web based seminars on a variety of topics including Google, Coding, Youtube, and 3d printing! Ear buds will be available for these sessions as the meetings will be held in close proximity to one another. For more information about all of the presentations and platforms available through the Digital Boulevard, check out pages 10-16 of the program.
Tip #3: Have Fun, you deserve it!
The musical and artistic talents of students from across the state will also be featured at the convention. Take a break from all of your professional learning and consider attending a performance by The New Jersey All-State Jazz Ensemble and New Jersey Honors Jazz Choir, or a concert by The New Jersey All-State Chorus and Orchestra. There’s also the Art Gallery sponsored by the Art Educators of New Jersey on display at the convention center for the duration of the conference. See page 17 of the program for more information.
If you would want to kick back with some fellow educators and forget the classroom for a few hours, grab a drink and get your dance on at Bally’s with the country rock band, Dirty Jersey. This is an NJEA sponsored event at The Wild, Wild West on Thursday, Nov. 8, from 8 p.m. to midnight with no admission fee for members. See page 37 of the program for more information.
Tip #4: Mingle!
Fun run. Join the Boardwalk Run or Fun Walk on Friday, November 9th at 9:30 am. The run is 3.1 miles and the first male and female finishers will win an award! If you want to pre-register you have until Oct. 26th. Get outside, enjoy the scenery of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk and cheer on your fellow New Jersey teachers by attending as a competitor or spectator. See page 53 of the program for more information.
County and sub-section receptions. Select counties across the state will host a breakfast or a luncheon for their members. This is a great opportunity to discuss topics in education relevant to your county. Check out page 28 for more information about county participation and location. You should also be on the lookout for receptions and meetings hosted by the many specialty sub-sections of the NJEA.
Tip #5: Load up on freebies!
Make sure you bring a bag with you: a large bag, empty and maybe even on wheels, because there is so much to see and to take with you. You can buy items for yourself or your classroom, and collect tons of stuff from all of the various vendor tables. The exhibition hall is seemingly endless, with row upon row of educator-focused products and services. You can find exhibits for any category, from child advocacy, continuing education, to curriculum resources and teachers’ auto Insurance, come stop by and visit us at the NJ Teachers’ Lounge, booth #2016.
Rebecca Stone teaches 12th grade special education English at Long Branch high school.
For more information on WHAT to eat while you’re in A.C., check out our blog HERE, which reveals some of the best options (organized by how much you want to spend) on a variety of foods.
For the full NJEA program book, click HERE