In January, I had the chance to present at the Southern Early Childhood Association’s (SECA) Regional Conference. SECA stretches from Virginia to Texas so it was no small potatoes to be chosen. I had prepared a presentation around “everyday museums” and how to use museum education theory in your classroom planning, so I was pretty excited.
Then, I got my presentation time… 7:30am on the last day of the conference. I totally understand that at conferences they try to fit in as many workshops as possible. After all, educators have so little spare time for professional development and they want to take full advantage. Plus, I was a new presenter talking about a niche topic. Still, that was early and I was nervous that it would be just me looking out at an empty room.
The morning of my presentation I set out my props, piled up my hand-outs and waited. When the presentation time officially started I had three attendees looking up at me, surprisingly alert and eager considering the hour!
And you know what…it was one of my favorite presentations yet. It was great for all the reasons you might think, smaller group means easier discussion, more flexible etc. But, it was also great for me. There was one classroom teacher, one person who worked for a state accreditation agency and one museum educator from an aquarium. I would toss out the comment to get it started but then they ran with it, gave each other suggestions and helped me see what they really needed and wanted.
No one (including me) could hide behind the crowd and speak in generalities. I had to think on my feet about specific ideas and suggestions and tie my big ideas into their real world scenarios. I feel like now I am more prepared for those packed conference rooms (fingers crossed…one day) and it won’t be as easy to forget the individual stories and needs behind each filled chair.
So, yet again, quality wins out over quantity. I’m very grateful to those three women for helping me and I just hope that they came away with something as useful as they gave me!