Empowerment and Validation, and I need to use a part of my own conference experience to share why. One of the workshops I presented was about using papier-mache. I figured I'd be in a typical workshop room, and have maybe 30 or 40 attendees. So, when I found myself presenting in a small auditorium, kind of a lecture hall, with a podium and a microphone, and at least 200 people in the room, the panic set in. Here's a pic of part the crowd that attended. Not seen in this photo are the 20 or more people sitting on the floor along the wall, on both sides. That's me with the silver and blue hair; to my right is a sign language interpreter!
poof * it was done.
For example: "I haven't done papier-mache since 1994 and I'm retiring in 2 years, but I'm ready to try it out again when I get back to school!"
Or "I'm a new teacher and I thought papier-mache was unmanageable in my classroom but now I'm sure that I can handle it!"
Or "The last time I did papier-mache with my students, everything was a disaster. Now I think I can be successful!"
WOW!! It is beyond humbling to know that I have empowered so many to be able to do something they didn't think they could. And it validates, for me, the worth of the effort that goes in to preparing a workshop, assembling the necessary materials, and giving up your personal time to both prepare and to present. It is an uplifting experience.
We all need an occasional pat on the back, someone to tell us we have done a good job. Receiving validation and feeling empowered are essential for a confident teacher to be successful. When, for example, your budget has been cut, or you don't have a classroom or the necessary supplies, or your schedule is insane, or you and your program are being constantly undermined, where do you go to receive the validation you need to be confident about your success? Certainly, one such place to go is somewhere that like-minded people, who will understand your challenges, gather. It can be in a place such as the lively Art Teacher group on Facebook, or some twitter chats, or elsewhere on social media. But in my opinion, nothing beats the experience of physically being in the presence of these like-minded people. For me, attending the national convention or my state convention (and also being a presenter) provides the validation that makes the process of preparing, and the monetary expense (I pay my own way) worth every bit of effort and every dime. You will see me at these conventions again next year!