Atlanta: American Meteorological Society – AMS Annual Meeting

AMS is the American Meteorological Society, and this was their Annual Meeting. So what were they talking about?  Well, stuff like Chemistry and Earth Science, with subdisciplines including Analytical Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Atmospheric Science, Climatology, Meteorology….  The international debate on climate change made this a particularly topical;  and, sure enough, the theme for the 2014 AMS Annual Meeting was “Extreme Weather—Climate and the Built Environment: New perspectives, opportunities, and tools”.  Taking NYC as an example, Mother Nature has been forced over four centuries to give up more and more reclamation land to property-hungry Manhattanites.  Now, it seems, she wants it back.  The New York districts damaged by Hurricane Sandy’s storm-surge were almost identical to the land drained and reclaimed since 1600.  It included a broad ribbon of commercial and residential property ringing the southern tip of Manhattan Island. 400,000 people live in what a century ago was still a flood plain, and before that was under water.  Makes you think… or is that sink…?

Austin: Texas Computer Education Association – TCEA

TCEA is the Texas Computer Education Association.  we heard that passionate teachers, campus and district leaders all unite at this annual event, to gather and share the latest trends and best practices for creating “engaging classrooms that excite today’s active and inspired learners”. Who was there exactly?  Well, Teachers, Campus Leaders, Curriculum and Instruction Leaders, Technology Directors and Coordinators, Superintendents, Librarians and Library Media Specialists, Educational Technology Enthusiasts…  Apparently you’re never too young to start learning stuff from computers.  More than 400 companies were on hand to showcase their products and services ,in over 90,000 square feet of exhibition space. This marketplace was the destination of choice for learning about the products and services that support innovative teaching and learning environments.  Wait: how do you teach a 4-year-old with little tiny hands to Ctrl+Alt+Delete…?

Vegas: Association for Career and Technical Education

ACTE, or The Association for Career and Technical Education, is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for careers. ACTE was founded in 1926, ten years after the federal government began funding “vocational education” through the Smith-Hughes Act. Now, of course, it’s all about the internet. Online scorecards, infographics and other online tools are flourishing. One of the most recent entries is an infographic series created by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education for the nation as a whole and for all 50 states and DC. “Tapping the Potential: Profile of Adult Education Target Population” profiles use Census data to show the percentage of adults that lack a high school credential or English proficiency. ACTE aims to fix all that. CTE is getting much-warranted attention on Capitol Hill lately. Maybe ACTE can help legislators with their proficiency issues…. #careerteched

San Diego: California Schools Board Association – CSBA

“CSBA is the California Schools Board Association, and CSBA/AEC is CSBA’s premier continuing education program, “”the only leadership development opportunity that offers the governance perspective.”" We heard how the association is “”delivering practical solutions to help governance teams from districts and county education offices improve student learning and achievement”". Whether you were a veteran board member, a superintendent, a board support professional, or a first-time attendee, you found a conference filled with practical ideas. Whether you were focused on issues related to budget and finance, student achievement, governance, school safety, common core, community engagement, communication or collaboration, this premier event majored on key areas to guide governance teams through tough fiscal times. To prove how up-to-the-minute the proceedings were, there was a speech from Jane McGonigal, visionary game designer and futurist. No, she didn’t read palms….

Atlantic City: NJSBA Workshop #NJSBAWorkshop13

The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of boards of education. NJSBA provides training, advocacy and support to advance public education and the achievement-level of students, all this achieved through effective governance. Educational problems and processes are complex, we heard, because they cross domains: they involve learning and cognition, but also an understanding of language, culture, race, history, technology, and geography. To respond to such a complex challenge, teachers need knowledge and skills that cut across domains. Topics that got people talking included Making the Grade, Raising the Bar, Teaching the Teachers (apparently developing effective educators takes time, in case you thought it was just a cookie-cutter kind of a thing), Constructing Schools that Inspire, and Rewarding Sustainability. Hey teacher, I brought you an apple…

Chicago: APSA

August 29 – September 1, 2013. Civics?  What is that exactly?  Well, civics, we learned, is the study of the workings of the national and local government, especially as the subject of a secondary school course suited as training for citizenship. The American Political Science Association, or APSA, is the leading professional organization for the study of political science, and serves more than 15,000 members in over 80 countries. With a range of programs and services for individuals, departments and institutions, APSA brings together political scientists from all fields of inquiry, regions, and occupational endeavors within and outside academe in order to expand awareness and understanding of politics.  More than 1,000 panels, meetings and receptions were held over the course of the conference, creating opportunities for networking, learning and engagement in the profession.

San Diego: SCUP

July 29-31, 2013. Well, we’ve heard of B-cups and C-cups and D-cups… but SCUPs?  Sounds pretty impressive!  Actually SCUP stands for the Society for College and University Planning, and this is a seriously serious gathering, attended by Deans, Provosts, Principals, Presidents, VPs and the like — in fact all levels of leaders from across all planning disciplines in higher education.  SCUP members play a prominent role in their academic, corporate, and governmental communities.  The educational program at SCUP’s annual international conference offered educationalists the right avenues, formats, and experiences for learning. If the plenary sessions eventually palled, delegates could continue learning by ​visiting booths, plus “Take-Five!” kiosks, 30-minute “Learn This!” presentations, and five-minute “Make Your Point!” presentations.  (Exclamation marks were in plentiful supply, possibly in homage to THAT cup-size…).