2012 NJEA Convention LogoIf you like numbers, then you’ll love the NJEA Convention. This is the 158th gathering. There are over 300 professional development seminars, workshops, and programs. Four halls house over 700 exhibitors and vendors. And that’s just a fraction of the action.

Want more numbers about this year’s NJEA Convention? Then here are 12 ways to do it right.

  1. Book a room. NJEA has blocked out hotel rooms at a reduced rate during the NJEA Convention. Not only will you find great rates, but free shuttle service to and from the convention center is available only from these hotels. Turn to Page 24 for a list of hotels and details on how to reserve your room. The deadline to book a room is Oct. 15.

  2. Bring the kids. Don’t know what to do with the kids? Bring ‘em along! For the second year, NJEA has enlisted the services of ACCENT on Children’s Arrangements. While you attend NJEA Convention events, ACCENT’s experienced and professional staff will create safe, nurturing, and educational environments. ACCENT staff are CPR-certified.

Only children of NJEA members, ages 3-12, will be admitted. Children must be toilet-trained. The cost is $20 per child, per day, and preregistration is required. Parents and guardians have the option of providing lunch or ordering lunch through ACCENT for an additional fee. For more information about ACCENT and to register, visit njeaconvention.org.

  1. Hop on board. Why not take mass transit to Atlantic City? Avoid the traffic hassle with NJ Transit. The Atlantic City Rail Line starts at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, makes lots of stops in New Jersey, and ends at the Atlantic City Rail Terminal, adjacent to the Convention Center. In addition, NJ Transit runs extra trains on that line within New Jersey just for convention-goers. NJ Transit also offers bus and River Line service to Atlantic City. Be sure to contact your county association to see if it’s running a bus to the convention. If you do drive, take advantage of the free parking offered at Atlantic City High School.

  2. Make a plan. Your NJEA Convention Program will be mailed to you at the end of this month. The program has all the info you need, from workshop dates, times, and descriptions to biographies for plenary speakers and information about special events. If you want to know what you’ll see on the convention floor, go to njeaexhibits.com for a list of exhibitors that includes booth numbers and contact information. You’ll even find a virtual floor plan.

  3. Be inspired. The 2012 convention features two great plenary speakers. Educator and social justice advocate Jonathan Kozol will keynote on Thursday, Nov. 8. On Friday, teacher evaluation expert Charlotte Danielson will speak. Both sessions are scheduled for from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  4. Get technical. Whether you have a quick question, need a complete tutorial, or just want to get acquainted with professional development opportunities available on njea.org, explore High Tech Hall to see how the latest applications are being used in today’s classrooms. You’ll find the Technology Integration Showcase and the Teacher-to-Teacher Learning Lab, where members will present one-on-one and small group demonstrations of technology activities tested in their own classrooms. There are two classrooms that will offer hands-on practice using technology to enhance instruction. For the first time, NJEA members will be able to record their time spent in High Tech Hall for professional development credit.

  5. Meet and greet. Yes, the convention has workshops, but this event is also about networking. New members and first-time attendees should be sure to stop by the New Member Center. And your convention program lists many of the hospitality suites and other meetings where you’ll have a chance to talk with colleagues away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibit floor.

  6. See what’s new.  Are you an ESP wondering what the convention has for you? New this year is the ESP Pavilion, a one-stop shop for educational support professionals. It will feature small-group discussions, each focused on a specific career in the fields that make up the ESP family, including paraprofessionals, aides, secretaries, and transportation, custodial/maintenance, building and grounds, cafeteria, and security professionals. You’ll also find information on NJEA’s E-Learning courses designed specifically for ESP members.

If you’ve attended the convention before, you’ll also notice a big change in the center of the exhibit floor. What used to be the Services Center is now Main Street NJEA, where you can learn about the broad range of services available to NJEA members.

And don’t miss Evaluation Central so you can prepare for the state’s new evaluation system for teachers.

  1. Say your piece. Want to share your thoughts on teacher evaluation, state standardized tests, or the Common Core State Standards with policymakers? Here’s your chance. On Thursday morning, Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf will address conventiongoers. Air your concerns with members of the State Board of Education at a forum on Thursday afternoon.

  2. Walk the floor. It’s not just textbook companies, field trip destinations and fundraising opportunities. The exhibit floor also features the Great Ideas Forum, Authors’ Alley, walk-in sessions presented by the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC), an art gallery, and a health fair.

  3. Scan to win. The convention badge you receive in the mail gets you in, but it gets you so much more! Several Atlantic City restaurants, stores, and attractions offer discounts to convention attendees. And new this year is the opportunity to scan your badge at kiosks around the convention center to enter a drawing for great prizes.

  4. Celebrate our schools. Want to attend a feel-good event that will make you proud to work in New Jersey’s great public schools? Attend the Celebration of Excellence on Friday afternoon. You’ll meet the innovative teachers who won grants from NJEA’s Hipp Foundation, hear from the new state teacher of the year, and help honor NJEA’s Award of Excellence winners.