Saturday, January 26, 2019

CMEA Conference

This week, I had the opportunity to attend CMEA (the state music education conference). It was such an interesting experience - I haven't been to CMEA for years, and in the meantime, I've attended several ed tech conferences. This gave me such a different perspective than I have ever had before, and reflecting on that has been fascinating to me! One of the things that made me smile was how floored attendees were to have an app with the schedule/program on it (this was the first year with an app in addition to printed programs).

Here are a couple of my observations and takeaways.

It's a high-quality conference...

This conference featured great variety in the sessions and well-prepared speakers. There were not a lot of sessions that I attended that were "duds". I enjoyed the presentations and picked up a lot of ideas! Beyond the sessions, everything else (venue, equipment, etc) just had the feeling of being organized and well-done.

...but still a lot of sit-n-get.

While the sessions I went to were well-done and engaging, they were still primarily presented in lecture style. There was a lot of "sage on the stage" and not a lot of participant interaction. This could have just been the sessions I attended (I wasn't in as many general music sessions), but it was a bit disappointing to me. We still have a long way to go until we teach in a way that encourages the best retention (hint: it's not by talking at someone for an hour). One possible factor was the tech limitation of having no wifi in many of the rooms.

It was wonderful being in my new role...

By far, my favorite part about this conference was getting the chance to spend time with the teachers in my district! Normally, our conversations happen during a 5-minute passing period or when there is a specific need ("Do you have _____?"). It was so refreshing to be able to hang out, talk, share, and just spend time together without the pressure of needing to get something done! I was able to have so many one-on-one conversations as well, about various things that are going on throughout the district Lots of people apologized for grabbing me at the conference to talk "regular work", but I actually enjoyed it! It gave me the chance to really hear how things are going. And THAT helps me do my job so much better!

...but also a bit hard to figure out my place.

Let's be honest, this is a conference for teachers. Which is great! And it meant that there weren't many sessions designed for administrators. I felt really torn between going to sessions that piqued my interested and those that I felt like I "should" go to. I found that even though I loved the sessions with lots of takeaways, most of them weren't that applicable to me since I am not teaching kids! This continues to be a bit of an identity shift for me - I'm not a teacher (by position) anymore.

Although I have attended in the past, I enjoyed CMEA this year more than ever before. It is a great place for connections, old and new, and I was blessed to see friends and teachers from high school, college, and beyond! I'm grateful for the opportunity to attend and spend time with a wonderful group of music educators, and look forward to seeing how this all gets applied to create better experiences for KIDS!

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