Update on NAGC Convention Task Force

Shelagh Gallagher, Ph.d.
Dornswallo Wilkins-McCorey, Ed.D.

If it's October, it's nearly time for the NAGC annual convention! The convention is many things to many people. It is where we gather to share ideas, gather resources, and meet colleagues who share an interest in the needs of gifted children. For those who have attended for many years, it's an annual reunion of friends and familiar faces, where days of sessions and meetings are punctuated with receptions and dinners. However, the most important function of the NAGC Convention is to share the best of theory and practice in the field. Selecting the best information the field has to offer and making it broadly accessible is paramount to NAGC's mission to "support those who enhance the growth and development of gifted and talented children.

But the times, they are a'changin' at NAGC, and the convention needs to adapt to those changes. Best practices in meetings and conference planning have evolved considerably over the past decade, never mind the changes that have occurred over the past 18 months. For this reason, the NAGC Board of Directors established a Convention Task Force to conduct a review of the current procedures for session selection and to investigate new content delivery options. This isn't the first task force to take a close look at the convention. In 2012, a task force was convened to look at the overall structure of the convention. Lauri Croft and Shelagh Gallagher co-chaired that task force, which resulted in changes including improved information to prospective presenters, recommendations on the number of sessions per presenter, and a revised rubric to guide the blind review process. While converting the 2020 convention from face-to-face to an online format, an ad hoc Convention Visioning Advisory Group was formed to help develop frameworks and models for various virtual options for the 2020 convention and beyond. As part of their work the advisory group developed the following guiding principles for the annual convention:

  1. The convention provides NAGC members a personalized professional learning experience aligned with Universal Design Principles
  2. The convention program and experience are non-discriminatory, anti-racist, inclusive, and promotes equity
  3. The convention experience allows for NAGC members to network, create connections, and deepen relationships
  4. The convention experience is an opportunity for inspiration, sharing multiple perspectives, and exchanging new ideas
  5. The convention is a chance to learn from experts in the field and emerging leaders/scholars
  6. The convention provides a forum for gifted students to be recognized and heard
  7. The convention is a time to find practical information and resources for effective gifted classrooms and programs and innovative initiatives
  8. The convention empowers parents and families of gifted children with knowledge and resources to support their gifted child
  9. The convention highlights the accomplishments of eminent leaders, scholars, advocates, and educators through awards and special sessions
  10. The convention promotes advocacy, awareness, interests, and innovative directions in gifted education

The work of the past task force and Convention Visioning Advisory Group provided a foundation for the current task force. Christine Deitz, Gillian Eriksson, Matt Fugate, Michelle Kane, Javetta Jones-Roberson, Michelle Fraiser Trottman Scott, Colin Seale, PJ Sedillo, and Michele Swain all accepted an invitation to serve on the task force, and Carolyn Kaye and Jeff Danielian serve as staff partners. The group has been meeting weekly since mid-August to address four questions:

  1. How can we ensure a wide variety of speakers and topics? Should presenters be limited to a total number of sessions, including panels, to enable the inclusions of a greater number of different speakers?
  2. How can we ensure quality proposal reviews and avoid the potential for a single "outlier" score to remove a potential session from consideration?
  3. With future conventions likely offered in a hybrid model, how might we need to re-consider the session proposal and selection process?
  4. What other questions/issues exist surrounding the convention that this Task Force may frame for future consideration by the Board?

Half of the group took on Questions 1 and 2 by engaging in a "deep dive" into the sessions selection process to find patterns in session selection using several years of data provided by NAGC staff. We found some anomalies in the current process that suggest that it may be time to think differently about that process. The other half of the task force took responsibility for Question 3 but quickly realized that they needed a vision for a hybrid convention before considering changes to session selection. They researched methods of expanding our hybrid environment by looking at what other organizations are doing and considering the benefits of different options. The entire task force has been willing to put aside all assumptions as we look at past practice and future possibilities. Our larger aim is to ensure that integrity and innovation continue to anchor convention activities. 

We're eager to share more about what we've learned and to hear your ideas! NAGC will hold a virtual Town Hall on Thursday, October 28th at 4 PM ET, where we will present our work to date. After a brief presentation highlighting some areas of concern and possibilities for the future, we will turn the floor over to you for feedback and ideas. To attend the town hall, please register in advance.

We look forward to seeing you online on October 28 and at NAGC21 in November!

Dr. Shelagh A. Gallagher     Dr. Dornswalo Wilkins-McCorey
Convention Task Force Co-Chairs

Dr. Shelagh A. Gallagher's career in gifted education spans 30 years, with positions including teacher, Research Assistant (Duke TIP), Director of Research and Assessment (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy), grant manager (William & Mary Center for Gifted Education), team member founding two gifted schools, and 13 years as professor, researcher, writer, and Javits grant director (UNC Charlotte). Today she conducts research, provides professional development, recruits gifted teachers for academic programs in China (DDC), contributes to state and national policy initiatives, and mentors a 4th-grade reading program.

Dr. Dornswalo Wilkins-McCorey is a Coordinator in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the Office of Gifted Programs in Virginia Beach City Public Schools. In her 22 years as an educator, Dr. Wilkins-McCorey has worked in various capacities throughout the division. She has presented on gifted education, differentiation, and related topics locally and nationally within the National Association of Gifted Education, Virginia Association of the Gifted, Virginia Beach City School Division, Suffolk Public School Division and Hampton City Schools.


The views expressed here are not necessarily those of NAGC