Teacher's Corner: NAGC Convention is a Classroom

There is nothing like the feeling of walking into a classroom the day after attending an NAGC conference. Despite exhaustion, looming deadlines, and work to get caught up on, the smile on my face and the thoughts and excitement I feel seem to carry me along during my slow introduction back to the daily schedule. As I meet my students face to face, I can’t help but feel that if we, as educators, can instill even a percent of this enthusiasm for school, half of our work will already be done.  


Our students typically follow a daily morning routine; wake up early, get dressed, pack the books, catch the bus or walk, arrive, take a seat, and prepare to learn—But for a few days in early November, thousands of educators return to the foundational roots of what led them to education in the first place, an environment enriched by exceptional teachers.

Like many of you, I’ve just returned from the NAGC 63rd Annual Convention at Walt Disney World®, which became a classroom of the best and brightest minds in gifted education from around the world. Pre-conference sessions, mini-keynotes, general sessions, poster presentations, and daily classes presented a schedule which would certainly overwhelm even the best vice-principal of academics. Hands-on practice, lecture, group work, and independent learning were just a few of the delivery methods used by the presenters in order to ensure that there was truly something for everyone. Some of these educators attended and organized meetings, clubs, and activities intended to provide a solid, sustained framework for the association.

Inside the halls of the hotel and conference center, folks conversed, listened, offered ideas, received advice, and at times, participated in one-on-one meetings. Physical education was present in the form of speed walking. Lunch was quick, and I am sure that some folks took advantage of a little nap time. Mickey Mouse shaped pretzels and ice cream bars provided an afternoon snack; the exhibit hall served as a book fair, friends gathered socially after school, and new friendships were made. Assemblies provided time to hear from our leaders about the current state of the field, and more than 2000 attendees went on a field trip that include a dance event. The Celebration of Excellence recognized new and veteran educators and scholars for their dedication to NAGC and its mission.

With each passing day, participants filled their brains with new and exciting research-based practices and ideas. All in all, it was a mammoth conference, and one that I’ll remember and reflect on during the year ahead!

As I reflect on the long and at times exhausting few days, is is clear that new directions in the form of advocacy and dissemination of our work is underway.

Most exciting are the new goals put forth by NAGC to Change Minds; Change Policies; and Change Practice, by focusing on initiatives in order to support the field through actions and collaboration. In addition, this year’s convention marked the unveiling on the Giftedness Knows No Boundaries campaign, a movement seeking to improve policies and practices that create supportive environments where gifted children can thrive. Executive Director René Islas asked us all in attendance to “Pin it; Post it; and Share it!”

One clear difference emerges between our convention time and the experience many gifted teachers and students have on a daily basis—Everyone was allowed to be themselves on a social, emotional, and educational level.

Starting tomorrow, and each day after that, I will think a little differently of the students who wake up early, get dressed, pack the books, catch the bus or walk, arrive, take a seat and prepare to learn. It is what happens next, when the class is quiet and the teacher begins to speak, that makes all the difference.

See you in Charlotte 2017, when we shine a light on gifted children!