Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crazy Conference Weekend!! (an overview)

Not my shoes.  Wish they were.
The annual conference is over, and my body is beginning to regain some energy just in time to cook up a storm for thanksgiving tomorrow!  Oh dear, bad terminology.  I'm afraid the storm is what is currently happening outside.  Is that snow or mashed potatoes covering my trees and sidewalks?

Anyhow... This will be the first of a couple of conference posts, looking back on a whirlwind long weekend.  I represent our region on the state board of trustees, so my trip began with a board meeting Thursday night, prior to the official Friday morning opening of the conference.

Last year, it was my idea to institute a table that I named 'Bling Your Badge'.  With a marvelous supply of materials donated by Nasco and School Specialty (thank you!!!!), it was a great success that we repeated this year.  Everyone jumped at the chance to spend a few idle moments with a hot glue gun and wiggle eyes, jewels, shiny buttons, patterned foam, pipe cleaners, ribbon, pompoms, and more.  Here's a couple of name tag photos, starting with my own two-sided badge.
Buttons!  Super name badge!
So, I was basically in charge of this activity, and every chance I got, I stopped and 'manned' the table for a while.  It was so much fun seeing the enthusiasm of adults playing with sparkly things! The glue guns were working hard all day and evening!
Happy Badge-Blingers!
And then, I had signed up (as a certifiably insane person) to teach four workshops.  My car was totally full with materials for workshops(including laptop and projector), the Bling table, the basket raffle, and of course my suitcase. (Plus a bag o'shoes; my feet can be a problem.)  On Friday morning, I had my first workshop, 'Great Ideas with Unexpected Materials: from Toothpaste to Roofing Felt and Beyond'.  I had printed 40 handouts, and could have used more.  Meanwhile, because of the record snowfall in Buffalo, we had several scheduled presenters who were not able to make it to the conference.  So we were asked if we were willing to fill in some gaps.  I agreed, and in the afternoon I presented the workshop a second time, to another 20+ attendees.  (Reminder: if you are one of the people who therefore didn't get a handout, email me and I will send you the handout ASAP!)
Prior to dinner, we hosted our region's hospitality party.  Then, right after dinner, I taught a 'Friday After Dark' workshop.  These are hands-on workshops that run from 8:30 to 11:00pm.  Except the people in my workshop (Sheet Rock Carving) didn't leave until 11:30!  I'll be posting a detailed post about this workshop probably by the end of the weekend.
Happy Sheetrock carvers!
Mustachioed scavenger hunt participants peeked into the Sheetrock workshop!
  Between teaching, transporting workshop materials back and forth to the hotel room, checking in on the Bling table, visiting the vendor booths, and more, I didn't actually attend a single workshop on Friday.  Seriously.  And I went back to my room exhausted, but with my brain firing like crazy.  I think I slept about an hour the whole night.  This is NOT an exaggeration.  (If  you were at the conference, this is why perhaps I did not look like my usual perky self on Saturday!)
Papier-mache workshop
 Saturday, I again taught a morning workshop to about 40 attendees, one of my favorite things ever (as you know, if you are a regular reader of this blog): 'Papier-Mache Made Easy: The Nitty-Gritty'.  And in the afternoon I taught another personal favorite: 'The Amazing Flexagon: Making Math Connections in Art'.  This was a double-session hands-on workshop and by the time it was over, a whole bunch of math-phobic attendees had successfully constructed a mobius strip, a trihexaflexagon and a tetratetraflexagon.  Yay!!
Flexagon workshop
 In the process of teaching, transporting materials, vendor visiting, looking at the member show and the student show, talking, eating and drinking, and cleaning up after the Bling table, I had by this point successfully knocked off another whole conference day without attending a single workshop or speaker.  And frankly, my feet were shot, my body was exhausted, my voice was spent, and I don't think I would have had the brain-power to pay attention to much.  Anyhow, most of the workshops that most interested me were scheduled either at the same time when I was teaching, or directly before or after, in rooms nowhere near my workshop space.  Due to the spread-out nature of the venue, and the tiredness of my feet, I just didn't make the effort.
Bling table: the aftermath.  One unclaimed (fake) cupcake

Two hands-on workshops that were scheduled concurrently with my workshops, but that I would have loved to attended: Tree Houses with Recycled Materials, and 3-D Weaving.  But from talking to people, and looking at their results, I think I should be able to figure them out.  
 You might therefore think that my conference was wasted; it was not.  After a 36-year teaching career, it is now more important to me to pass on some expertise and ideas to younger teachers than it is to attend workshops.  I had many wonderful conversations, and I'd say the conference attendees were enthusiastic and happy.  It was a wonderful conference.  And I did get to Sunday morning's keynote speaker, before the closing brunch, and I ended my conference by winning a set of black-light paints from the vendor raffle! 
I'm still standing!  Me and my partner-in-crime Kathleen at Saturday night dinner party


  1. You have such a good heart, Phyl! Most people who retire, aspire to nothing more than relaxation. You run from it in order to share your wealth of knowledge with the ones who follow after us. I hope you can find a good pair of " Walking Cradles" to soothe your tootsies. They are amazingly comfortable! Thanks for sharing a great post!

    1. I've never heard of them before. I have problematic feet, and need extra-wide shoes (especially a side toe box) in 5 or 5-1/2, not an easy size to find, with either good arches and support, or room for my orthotic, which requires a wide deep shoe. Pronated feet, bunions, one leg shorter than the other, pigeon-toed; you name it, I've got it!!

  2. Wow you did a LOT! I'd love to learn about the flexagons. Do you have a handout for that? My students love math and origami so this is right up their alley. You had some cute outfits too!

    1. Marcia, I am emailing you a handout. Good luck! ;)

  3. I was getting tired just reading about your marathon week!!! It does sound mentally energizing, though!! Have you tried black light paints. I met with a small group of local art teachers for coffee earlier this week and one of the gals had been to our local conference, where black lights were all the rage. She was describing this great session for secondary students where they made an installation of fish using the paint and a black light to illuminate.

    1. Christie, I tried out the black light paints at a vendor booth. They were in tempera block form, but worked pretty well. The gimmick, of course, is that you need a black light to see them, so it's sort of a one-trick pony. Though I suppose I'll have some fun with my after-school students with the one little set that I won.

  4. I would have loved to attend your paper-mache workshop. What a great creative whirlwind! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Mary, I love teaching papier-mache. It's always fun making it seem easy to people who have been SO scared by it.