2011 ATE Conference – Orlando

Last week I attended the 2011 Winter Annual Meeting of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) in Orlando, FL. The meeting was held in Orlando, FL at the Caribe Royale Hotel. According to its website the ATE:

“was founded in 1920 and is the only national, individual membership organization devoted solely to the improvement of teacher education for both school and campus-based teacher educators. ATE members represent over 650 colleges and universities, 500 major school systems, and the majority of the state departments of education. The ATE office is located in the Washington, DC area where it represents its” members’ interests before governmental agencies and educational organizations. In addition, ATE has two voting seats on the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and has representation on the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education. ATE’s representational form of governance offers ATE members an unusually high level of opportunity for national leadership.

I was very excited that this was not only a great opportunity to network and get to know more professionals in my field, but also I was in the program to present at a roundtable discussion named: Viral Education” The Use of Web 2.0 Tools on a Social Issues in Education Course where Dr. Tony Talbert and myself  were to discuss our current research on the application of Web 2.0 and technology advanced practices on a teacher preparation Social Issues in Education course.

I got to Orlando on Saturday because I was very interested and taking full advantage of the expertise of this meeting. Because I am a graduate student and my travel budget is very limited I decided not to stay at the conference hotel ($159 per night), instead I opted to stay at a nearby RedRoof Inn which permitted me to spend $179 for the my whole stay in Orlando (that Saturday until the next Thursday). I check into my RedRoof Inn room and while the room was VERY modest and smelled particularly musky I decided to spend the night. The next day I woke up and decided to head to the conference hotel for one of the professional clinics that caught my eye in the program: Creating and Effective Culture of Assessment through the Technology Innovation. I sat in the room and waited for the clinic facilitator, but unfortunately that person never showed. I decided to leave the conference hotel and explore the town. I had been to Orlando a couple of times before, so I decided to have a delightful lunch in downtown Disney world, one of my favorite cost effective spots in town. I had lunch at Portobello, a delicious Italian restaurant. According to the website:

“Portobello’s menu was born from the bounty of the Italian countryside, as selected by a trio of noted chefs, including the James Beard award-winning Tony Mantauno. Patterned after a classic osteria, the restaurant lets Guests indulge in a dining experience that celebrates the simplest, most vivid flavors of Italy. Crusty breads, sun-ripened tomatoes, imported prosciutto di Parma, freshly caught fish, fruity olive oils and sharp, pungent cheeses are accentuated by the warmth of sharing these sumptuous flavors around a table of family and friends. The Antipasti includes a tempting variety of small plates of salumi, verdure (seasonal vegetables), formaggi and crostini. Have fun dining in the traditional Italian family style as you mix and match the perfect start to your meal. Be sure to savor the ricotta and spinach Ravioli Gigante served with imported San Marzano tomatoes and basil. A wood-burning oven infuses house favorites like pizza with unmistakable regional authenticity.”

The lunch was delicious, and after spending time in Downtown Disney on my own I decided to head back to the Caribe Royale for the opening general session of the conference withAnthony Daniels. In the conference program his bio said (among many other things) that:

“In 2004, Anthony was elected to serve on the NEA-SP Resolutions Committee. In 2005, he was elected State and local President of SAEA. Anthony has been the keynote speaker at various conferences and community events throughout the United States (…) Additionally in 2006, Anthony was appointed to the NCATE Standards Committee as well as University Accreditation Board. In June 2006, Anthony was the first African American Male ever to be elected as the chairperson of the National Education Association Student Program, representing more than 62,000 college students on over 1100 campuses. He has been recognized as a leading voice on the issue of college access and affordability. (…) Anthony has also been a guest on numerous nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts, and has been featured in various magazines discussing the topic of college affordability and mobilizing youth to action. His Memoir titled, To Sweeten Alabama: A Story of a Young Man Defying the Odds, was released in 2009. (…) In June 2006, Anthony was the first African American Male ever to be elected as the chairperson of the National Education Association Student Program, representing more than 62,000 college students on over 1100 campuses. He has been recognized as a leading voice on the issue of college access and affordability. (…) Anthony has also been a guest on numerous nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts, and has been featured in various magazines discussing the topic of college affordability and mobilizing youth to action. His Memoir titled, To Sweeten Alabama: A Story of a Young Man Defying the Odds, was released in 2009.”

This bio was very impressive and he also has run for as senate seat and he is my age. Given the theme of the conference/meeting: “Reigniting the Passion and Purpose For Teaching” I thin his talk was pretty decent. It was very racially driven, motivating and inspiring, but unfortunately at times sounded like a political speech which caused some of the participant around me not to like his talk as much (from what I was able to eavesdrop).
After the talk I stayed in for the conference Reception which had great food and great entertainment from a live band. Later that night, I went back to RedRoof Inn and decided to shower, and to my horror when I pulled the curtain closed in the shower and used bath cloth fell from the rod (what a nightmare!). I was grossed out, but finish showered, crawled in bed and passed out. The next morning I was ready for a fun filled day full of fun sessions, but on my way out of the hotel I was strangely harassed/verbally spoken to in a way I did not feel comfortable/safe by a couple of men in the RedRoof premises. That scared me a lot, but I didn’t have time to do much otherwise I would miss the first item of the conference agenda.
The first thing in the agenda was the newcomer’s breakfast where we (newcomers) got to know more about the organization. Then I got to attend some amazing sessions such as A Practical Framework for Understanding and Using Web 2.0 Tools to Develop 21st Century Skills, a roundtable discussion called Using New Technologies and Social Media to Identify the “Intangibles” Early in the Teacher Candidate’s Experience, Breaking the Silence: Pre-Service Teacher’s Attitudes Towards Action Research, and others.
One of the keynote speakers gave an amazing talk that is worth mentioning. His name is Craig Zablocki and his talk was electrifying and one of the main things that stuck to me from what he talked about is that when we are children we are not afraid of doing the things we want to so we should not fear as adults and as teachers.

When I returned to RedRoof Inn I notified that I wanted to check out and about the incident that had happened earlier with the two men and I headed to another hotel in the area. After several calls to the hotel and to hotels.com and a visit back to RedRoof Inn I was able to get a refund for the days I did not stay there. I felt much safer at the other hotel.

 

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