The Sound of Music…and Silence

There’s a certain musicality to exhibit halls. Between the clank of coffee cups and silver ware and the cacophony of voices, it can be hard to hear oneself think. This exhibit hall is no exception- except there’s more laughter punctuating the din. We had a great day yesterday. I’m always amazed at ANE’s reach, particularly when I travel. The number of graduates who stop by to pick up a bag or a pencil or to ask about an old colleague or former instructor always takes me by surprise. Then there are what I call the “alumni 2.0.” These are the folks who aren’t alumni themselves, but who are connected somehow to our community- by marriage, parentage or parenthood. They always have great stories about their experiences (or those of their loved ones) and great enthusiasm for what we do and why we do it.

Then there are the future alumni- the practicing educators who are intrigued by the idea of a graduate education that aligns with- rather than chafes against- their personal educational philosophies. They seem amazed and thrilled to discover us and gleefully take all the materials they can get their hands on.

The last group we had is one I haven’t experienced before- the Fans. David Sobel is with me, as I mentioned yesterday, along with a few of his books. We’ve had a surprising number of folks stop by to ask when he’ll be at the booth and then, once they catch him, they pepper him with questions and stories and ideas of how they could (or do) use his work. It’s really fun to watch.

Last night, after everything wrapped up, I joined a group of my colleagues here to enjoy the work of a Cuban jazz pianist named Roberto Carcasses. It was not only inspiring, but it represented on of the things I most enjoy about this community. People in this work really like each other, generally. We have a good time together not only because we have so much in common, but also because we’re open to all sorts of new experiences. Since my voice disappeared around 3:00 yesterday afternoon, I spent most of my time listening- to the music and to my friends. They’re a pretty interesting group- and you never can tell what’s going to happen when they all get together.

This morning, however, all of the salt water and cough drops in the world weren’t going to help me. My presentation on Teaching & Learning 21st Century Skills turned out to be very short since I couldn’t get through more than 10 words without coughing. I ended up giving out my materials and assuring folks that I’d be happy to answer questions or walk them through the powerpoint over the phone at any time. It was disheartening for me, but a number of folks stayed behind to have whispered conversations about the questions they brought in with them and the way they envisioned using the material. I have high hopes that at least a few will get in touch- but I miss having the experience of presenting. Note to self: get presentations scheduled in the first session, not the last.

So our boarding passes are printed and I’m going to break the booth down in just a few minutes. The exhibit hall is abandoned and folks are wheeling their suitcases into the lobby. My 15th Fall Forum has come to an end. See everyone in San Fransisco next year!

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