Today was an adventurous day, although not adventurous in the way you are accustomed to hearing about from me. I attended a conference for teachers in downtown Phoenix, which was fun in a lot of ways, but disappointing in other ways.
I did not like getting up at 5:15 this morning, I will have to admit that. I knew once I was up and going I would be okay, but I am definitely not a morning person! It was worth it, though, because my colleagues and I rode the light rail train into downtown Phoenix instead of having to drive our cars there, saving gas, and the environment. While riding the light rail, we passed by two places that I used to work. One has closed, and I noticed that the building was still empty, and one is still going strong. As we passed it, I was amazed that over 20 years have passed since I worked there. The building and parking lot still look the same, but I am sure there have been many changes. I miss being in graphic arts, but it doesn’t exist (as I knew it) anymore.
Downtown, looking vaguely “Abbey Road-ish:”
Soon we were in central Phoenix, and we got off the train at the convention center. Being in the city center always makes me starry-eyed and dizzy as I look up at the tall, glass-walled office buildings. It’s a heady feeling, an excitement of being right in the middle of where things are happening. I need to get out of my little two-mile-radius web of existence once in a while to clear my vision.
My co-workers and I were borne along the sidewalk by the crowd that was flowing into the convention center. We picked up our name badges, then several of us were glad to see that coffee was offered along with bagels, cream cheese, and fruit. We went in to the main room to find seats, then, with those prime seats (near the back) chosen, we went out to get cups of coffee.
The main conference room, which was a visual carnival of shapes, colors, and textures:
The presentation began right away. Before I say any more, I always learn something from these things, no matter what they are. But I will also say that it is the usual thing: good ideas that are common sense, and strategies that we already use, repackaged to make someone a sh*tload of money. This is no exception.
There were the usual ego-stroking introductions telling us how great the presenters are, the usual pep talk, and then a formulaic video – classroom scenes, music playing in the background while “real teachers” told how great this program is. You know, the usual. I drank my coffee in silence, writing down key phrases as they were spoken. As I said, I can always learn something useful from anything.
There were two sessions in the morning, and then we got to go to lunch together. My boss had the foresight to call a local restaurant and make a reservation, so we didn’t have to wait when we got there. Lunch was an hour and a half, which was much appreciated since teachers normally get about 15 minutes (if that) to (try to) relax (usually not succeeding). That alone was a treat. While we all sat at the table, we had some useful, informal conversations.
By the afternoon, we were tired of sitting. Our jobs have us standing and moving around all day, so I wasn’t quite sure how they expected us to sit there for hours. Personally, I can do it pretty well, but others were very uncomfortable. At least we were free to get up and walk around when we wanted to. It was especially nice to be able to use the bathroom when necessary, a real luxury in our world.
The afternoon sessions were somewhat of a disappointment for most of us, although a few people had good experiences. As we waited at the light rail station for the train to return us to our part of town, those who went to the interesting presentations talked about what they’d heard and learned.
A bizarre tableau in the convention center. I am not sure what the artist had in mind:
On the way home, the train was less crowded, so I got a seat this time, thanks to a young man who gave up his seat so I could sit down. Either he was being polite or I look like an old feeble woman. If he only knew, right? 😉
I got home late (for me), but at a normal time if I really did work in the city. Speaking of that, being out in the world makes me want to have a job like I used to have. I suppose it is only because I enjoyed taking the train downtown and not having to drive the car, as I used to. I also was thinking how tired I am of the “next great thing” that makes teachers like me have to jump through even more hoops than we had to before. That is what is dismaying to many of us. We didn’t have time to do what we need to do before, and now we really don’t have time to do the things we should. I am talking about things that we know benefit the students the most.
I will have another day like this tomorrow, which should be fun. By Friday, I will either be sick of it, or want to have a job downtown! Just kidding. But no matter what happens, it will be a great adventure!