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.