When I joined the Council for Exceptional Children, I did so because I believed that the organization was consistent with my personal mission as a special educator. Like any member, I’ve read CEC literature by mail, clicked on articles within the CEC SmartBrief, and paged through the scholarly research articles presented within the journals. All those facets contribute to what I know CEC to be – but none of it has compared to the experience of attending the annual convention (this year, in National Harbor, Md.).
Throughout the first full day of the convention, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interact with teachers, administrators, professionals, and scholars. I’ve participated in break-out groups that have included pre-service teachers, university-level emeritus-scholars, and every professional level in between. I’ve listened to the perspective of professionals in the field who have been publishing since before I was born. I’ve also shared some experiences of my own with students who have yet to teach in the classroom.
However, what strikes me the most about the convention experience is the collective and shared vision of CEC as a whole. Speak to almost any attendee and you’ll uncover a story that involves a commitment to students, a commitment to the profession of teaching, and a commitment to the idea that I can always advance my best practices and knowledge and instill them within those around me.
We all know a person in our school or community who has the capacity to bring out the potential of others by virtue of his or her own discipline, knowledge, obligation to profession, and even persistence and humor. The amazing thing about attending a convention is that those professionals are all around. They are here to share a piece of information or experience that might push inquisitiveness into an idea, knowledge into practice, and passion into dedication.
I would like to say that all these traits could be passed on by CEC SmartBrief and the TEACHING Exceptional Children and Exceptional Children journals – and to some extent, those publications are very capable of delivering information to me in my daily and very busy personal and professional life.
However, nothing replaces the very powerful connection of sharing ideas, stories, and knowledge person-to-person. Whether you’re an old pro who’s had the benefit of attending several conferences in the past – or whether you’re a first-year practicum student getting ready to write your reflection paper – the CEC Annual Convention & Expo is for you.
And now that I’ve finally made it here for the first time, all I can write is that I wish you were here.