Journeying to Mecca is an integral part of the Muslim
religion. “Hajj” as it is called is one of the religion’s five pillars. Every
year millions of people make this journey. Many Muslims consider this trip
mandatory once in the lifetime of every believer. Likewise, Christians often
consider traveling to the “Holy Land” to be a spiritually enriching experience
that makes their faith become more alive.
Both of these trips are powerful for
the participants. They are a time of spiritual renewal, connecting with other
like-minded people and a chance to grow towards a goal.
At the risk of sounding hyperbolous, I guess what I am
trying to say is that for special educators attending CEC’s Convention and Expo
has a lot of similarities to these religious pilgrimages. The Convention gives
participants a chance to be mentally renewed, connect with like-minded
professionals and grow in our pursuit of educating students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.
This year the Convention fell on my Spring break so I was
able to spend more time than most in the great city of San Antonio. For those
interested in the San Antonio dining scene, I am happy to report that you will
not go hungry if you visit. Between the Tex-Mex and bar-be-que, our bellies
were always filled.
I don’t have the space to write and you don’t have the time
to read about all the sessions I attended and how I grew into a teacher better
equipped to serve the needs of my students. But don’t worry, I do plan to blog
about the sessions throughout the semester as I use the things I learned. So
keep reading the blog!
As far as connecting with like-minded professionals, how
does attending a San Antonio Spurs game with some of the leaders in our field
sound? If basketball isn’t your thing, maybe you would be interested in doing
“The Wobble” with people you have been reading research from since you began
your college career. Of course there was the traditional connecting—exchanging
business cards, lunch meetings and discussions—but the convention gives you a
chance to connect with your peers, mentors and idols in more relaxed ways.
For being mentally renewed, it doesn’t get much better than
Amy Brennan and the motivational keynote address she gave at the opening
assembly. Excitement filled the air as thousands of special educators gathered
to kick off the next three days.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more exciting,
then came the Yes I Can! Awards ceremony. In my mind the highlight of the
entire week was the Yes I Can! Awards. Before the Convention, I was excited about being on the review
committee for next year’s awards, but after watching the
awards ceremony I am ecstatic about being a part of the committee that gets to
celebrate the accomplishments of our amazing students from across the country.
So yes, I have completed the special educators “hajj” and
have returned a better teacher because of it, but this won’t be a once-in-a-lifetime
trip. I’m already making plans to attend next year’s convention in Philadelphia!
I hope you will join me. I think you will agree it is time and money well spent
if you do.