Sunday, April 13, 2014

Moorestown SpEAC conference 2014 and Another Reason My Deb is Awesome

Happy Sunday Nite!!!

I hope your weekend was as busy and fun as mine!  Today was beautiful!  The car said 83 and this girl was thrilled!  After the winter we had, NJ deserves all the sun.  All of it!

This weekend was jam packed with school work (even though it's technically spring break for me--woot woot!) and Deb's conference!

Deb is a speech therapist and was asked to present at the annual SpEAC conference in her district.  Naturally, I wanted to attend the conference and cheer her on!  SpEAC is a support group for parents of students with disabilities.  I loved all parts of the conference--except the 8:30 start time.


Anyway, my feelings about the morning aside, it was a great event!  It started with a bagel and pastry filled breakfast buffet (as any unGodly hour should) and we were greeted by the chairwoman.  I felt like the coolest non-teacher, non-employee, non-parent, non-vendor there because Deb's friends came over to me and invited me to sit with them.   Seriously a relief!  I always feel awkward (not that awkwardness has ever impeding me from going somewhere and being "vertly" social.  Vert means not an extrovert but not an introvert...just vert.)  Deb later joined us...she was too cool to sit with us at the beginning of breakfast because she had to set up for her presentation.

After I got to feel like one of the cool kids, Jed Baker (a rockstar in the special ed world) gave the morning keynote address.  He has been to TCNJ before and I've heard/studied his theories all throughout college.  It was awesome to see him speak live.  If any of you get the chance to hear him--TAKE IT!  He's funny, honest, compassionate, and a wealth of knowledge.  He talked about behavior management, taking control, and most importantly hope.  Sometimes when you work with students with behavior problems you can think it is hopeless.  You think the tantrum, the unkind words, the hitting, and the other negative behavior will never stop.  Baker told us that you have to have hope, you have to have tolerance, and you have to control your own behavior if you want to modify the child's.  I really enjoyed his address.  

Next was Deb's session.  Let me give you some background.  Deb hates to speak in public.  It's seems like an oxymoron that a speech therapist hates to speak in public.  She really does, though.  It's her least favorite activity.  It even ranks lower than listening to me complain about grad school.  Deb and her colleagues started their session with an introduction and Deb even made a funny!  She said, "We all hate speaking in front of people so we picked speech because we would have a legal maximum group, or audience, of 5!"  Snaps for Deb!  It was a hit!  Deb's session focused on how parents can engage their students in joint attention activities and foster communication in everyday settings.  Great topic and great presentation.  Inevitably people told Deb and I that we looked alike.  We don't see it, but we both take it as a compliment.  I just want to be half as talented at my job as Deb is at hers.  Deb's a rockstar speech therapist and I love listening to her talk about her job.  She's so passionate and so dedicated that it makes me smile to hear her discuss and present her work.  A+ for Deb and her colleagues.

After Deb's session, there was a delicious lunch from M Bacio.  Lunch was for mingling and networking.  (Or drinking copious amounts of lemonade...take your pick.)

Right after lunch we had Jeff Yalden from MTV's Made give us an inspiring speech.  I laughed (a lot), cried (even more) and left feeling motivated and more connected to the world.  I'm pretty sure the fellow attendees that I did not know thought I was an emotional wreck.  (Not an untrue assessment at all) If you ever get to hear him speak, TAKE IT!  He's fantastic!  He talked to us about love, family, friends, instilling a sense of courage in our students, and how important it is to know your students and their lives.  

After his speech, Deb, some of her friends, and I went to her colleagues' session on Crisis Management.  It was incredibly informative.  As a new teacher, I feel like behaviors are something that I am going to struggle with, simply for the reason that I have not had that much experience with them.  After a few many years,  I will be more adept to handling them.  As we say in the biz, we will have more strategies in our bag of tricks.  The presentation was fantastic.  

Sometimes it can be hard to be a teacher.  You get bogged down by the negative publicity, the negative attitudes from peers or outsiders, students refusing to work to their potential, and the administration.  It's refreshing and necessary to attend events such as SpEAC where you get a break from the negative and get to rediscover your passion for teaching.  Events like these remind you why you wanted to be a teacher in the first place:  to make students' lives better.  

Here's a pic of Deb rocking her presentation! 

Doesn't she look cute?

Enjoy the fun and the sun!!



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