The NJEA Convention is one of the largest annual gatherings of educators in the world, bringing together tens of thousands of teachers, educational support professionals (ESP), and educational service professionals from all over New Jersey. It also draws workshop presenters, speakers, textbook publishers, college and university representatives, and educational vendors from across the United States.

At the heart of the NJEA Convention are the hundreds of workshops held on the third and fourth floors of the Atlantic City Convention Center.  If you are a teacher, nurse, counselor, child study team member or other specialist, there are workshops in every subject area and job category, including dozens of workshops that cross academic and vocational boundaries.

If you are an ESP, there are workshops designed to enhance your career and protect your employment interests. But ESP members should not limit themselves to workshops specifically tagged for ESP. All workshops are open to all members, including ESP. Conversely, teachers and specialists should consider offerings in the ESP category that may suit their academic and career needs.

Making the most of your professional learning

NJEA promotes the value of job-embedded professional development—that is, continuous professional learning that occurs within the school day, including opportunities for school-based professional collaboration. With that in mind, members should consider sitting down together in the weeks prior to the NJEA Convention to develop a collaborative strategy for making the most of the two days of professional learning in Atlantic City.

Teachers and paraprofessionals in one building may find they wish to attend the same workshop or series of workshops and bring that common experience back to their school, testing out what they’ve learned in the context of their classrooms, grade levels and subject areas. Office professionals, custodians, bus drivers and food service professionals may wish to do the same.

On the other hand, with planning, staff from the same school or district may wish to visit njeaconvention.org and choose different workshops to attend. Upon their return to school, these diverse experiences could provide content for a series of professional learning community sessions.

Higher education faculty and staff have the opportunity for this collaboration at the convention itself. Roundtable discussions for NJEA’s higher education members are scheduled at the convention, in addition to a breakfast meeting for New Jersey County College Association members and a luncheon with Deputy Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez.

Expanding your professional community

No matter what you do for a living, you do it better when you have the opportunity to meet and interact with people who do the same kind of work you do—this holds true whether you drive a school bus, manage an office, teach public speaking at a community college, serve as a classroom aide in a charter school, or teach AP physics at a traditional public high school. The in-person, professional connections made with colleagues outside of your school district, but in your field, enhance what you bring back to your students and colleagues at home.

The NJEA Convention provides ample opportunity for members to interact professionally. No fewer than 30 professional associations affiliated with NJEA sponsor workshops at the convention. These professional associations include all of the content-area organizations such as the Association of Math Teachers of New Jersey; special-area organizations such as the New Jersey Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; and the New Jersey Music Educators Association. Also included among the affiliates are those in specialized fields such as the New Jersey Cooperative Education Association, the New Jersey Council for Exceptional Children, and the New Jersey Association for Gifted Education. Organizations representing media specialists, social workers, psychologists, athletic trainers and others also offer workshops at the NJEA Convention.

Many of these organizations hold meetings at the convention or represent their professional associations in the Exhibit Hall.

Something for everyone

Finally, there are the events at the NJEA Convention that enhance the experience of all members. This year’s keynote speaker, Jacqueline Woodson, is a renowned, award-winning author. The Celebration of Excellence introduces the teacher of the year and celebrates members who have received grants from the NJEA Frederick L. Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education. Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet and several members of the State Board of Education will hold a panel discussion. Student performances by the New Jersey All-State Jazz Ensemble and Honors Jazz Choir and the New Jersey All-State Chorus and Orchestra take place on Thursday and Friday evenings.

The NJEA Convention is free to all members and is an important benefit of your membership. Come to Atlantic City on Nov. 8 and 9 to learn and grow with your colleagues, and take pride in participating in one of the largest and most comprehensive annual educational events in the world.

To learn more about what there is at convention for YOU, visit njeaconvention.org.

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