Thursday and Friday of this week was spent somewhere I very much look forward to going every year! The ILASCD conference in Schaumburg, IL. The school used to send us to the ACSI conference which in all honesty, was pretty lame. Not very many hands-on ideas for classrooms. Then a few years ago when my good friend was running the school, she requested that we be allowed to attend this conference instead, and the rest is happy history! This conference is awesome! It’s got the “big names”, as far as PreK and K teachers are concerned, and ideas galore. The big names this time were Kim Adsit, Donna Whyte, Kim Jordano, and Jack Hartmann (my favorite presenter.) I took tons of notes and pictures of examples they brought from their classrooms. And there lies the difference between this conference and a lot of others. A lot of the presenters are still currently teaching in a classroom. They’re in the thick of it with us every day! They know what it’s like to have that “one kid” that all your best ideas can’t get through to, and they encourage you to keep trying. This is the time of the year when you can get weary of doing well in your classroom. The kids have cabin-fever from being stuck inside all winter and everyone is ready to throw in the towel! Having this conference at this time of year gives us the shot of adrenaline we need to finish the year strong, and not give up. I only had a couple of classes that I really felt weren’t that helpful to me, and out of those, I even took one or two things away. If you’re looking for something (be it truth, ideas, whatever) you will find it if you’re looking, no matter where you look.
The other bonus is the shopping. And oh, how I love to shop! The ballroom at the beautiful (it really is) Renaissance Hotel (Bam! I spelled that right the 1st time!) is full of exhibits and booths with teaching materials. I bought lots of fun props for songs and games I regularly play in my classroom. I got a woodpecker hand puppet, some finger puppets, 3 cds, 2 resource books (this one I can’t WAIT to read!), and some kids books. And that’s just the shopping at the conference. Schaumburg has the largest IKEA I’ve ever been to, and you know we headed there as soon as the conference was over! I even kept my purchases under $100. Dave Ramsey would maybe not be proud, but at least not yell at me…although my husband might. I did have the cash though, and didn’t put anything on credit, so there is that.
Last year as I was lamenting to a vendor at the conference that my husband would not be happy with all the money I was spending, she told me this, “Your husband buys tools for the work he does, right? Well, these are the tools you need to do your job well.” So true! And that’s how I looked at it this year. I bought lots of fun things, but also some things that would help me to teach better. Teacher tools I call them. I’m gonna need a bigger tool box 😉
I’d like to publicly thank the administration at our school for sending us to the conference. There were a lot of teachers there who had to pay their own way, and that’s sad. Our country needs great teachers, and I wish all school saw the need to invest in their staff like ours does. So, thanks! I really appreciate it, and I know the parents and kids do too. And for the record we party people were asleep in our hotel by 10pm on Thursday night! Sad. So sad. In our defense we had to leave the school at 5:15am on Thursday and our first class started at 7am on Friday. Whoever is under the assumption that all teachers are morning people needs to get a clue! We did just fine though, and even had a fun evening swimming in the hotel pool, relaxing in the hot tub, and laughing. There was a LOT of laughing…and more than anything, that’s what made this trip amazing. Good friends make doing anything more fun.
If you’re one of my teacher friends, or a mom who would like some great ideas for teaching your little ones, just shoot me an email or let me know what you’re looking for (working on shapes, colors, numbers, etc.) in the comments and I’d be happy to share the knowledge!