Last week I had the opportunity to attend the IAGC conference. I don’t attend every year, but this year I went with a colleague because we both were presenting. For those that might not be aware, this conference is really geared towards gifted education in the state of Illinois. Administrators and teachers primarily attend this conference. It’s a multi-day conference that’s hosted in a Marriot in Naperville. I believe last year there was around 500 people (I’m estimating) attend – so it’s more of a smallish conference compared to some of the other education powerhouses in the the state. The freezing temperatures impacted attendance this year as driving conditions probably kept some away.
Most of the attendees that I saw last week are teachers that work with students with exceptional needs. Many of the teachers created sub plans and then school ended up being canceled because of the cold weather. Go figure. Whenever I’m asked to be out of the classroom for a meeting, conference, workshop, etc … I always am wondering if it’s truly worth the sub plans – kinda joking here.
What I enjoyed more particularly about this conference was that some of the presenters were teachers. Certainly not all, but there were a few sessions that I attended that involved teachers presenting to an audience. Some of the themes were related to acceleration, leadership, curriculum, social-emotional and equity with identification. I attended on Thursday and was able to attend a couple sessions – mostly related to curriculum and differentiation.
There’s a practicality component that is involved when a teacher is having a conversation with another educator. Most of the sessions were small enough that you could engage with the presenter by just raising your voice. Love that. I find it similar to an edcamp experience as individuals have a similar understanding of what’s expected in schools. There’s a large difference (at least from what I see) between teachers currently in the classroom and those that aren’t.
Now onto the sessions … I attended a session related to using adapted software in the classroom. Hearing positive ideas about how to use these in the classroom was different since I’m usually not too fond of this type of learning. The presenter gave a brief overview of a couple paid/free adaptive programs and spent a good amount of time answering questions about how to use them in the classroom. Another session emphasized the use of Jacob’s Ladder scaffolding techniques. The questions from the participants spurred additional questions – love when that happens. Later in the day Cheryl and I presented on using math routines in the classroom. Participants that attended offered their own ideas on routines that they found helpful.
It was truly an engaging experience to hear how others use and differentiate math routines. It was also refreshing to connect with other educators outside of our local area about how to create more meaningful math experiences for students. I think teachers need to explore outside of their district boundaries from time to time. Discussing some of the routines afterwards was also encouraging.
All in all, it was decent conference and worth the sub plans. I left with a better understanding of how certain tools and strategies can help meet the needs of exceptional students. I’m looking forward to the conference next year.