There’s just something about stepping away from the daily “normal” that renews my vigor for what I do. This weekend I have had that opportunity in abundance…thanks to the IMEA conference/convention/All State. What is so good about it?

1. Being in Ames, Iowa. Because I have family here (and a place to stay), it’s not a big “trip” where I have to fuss with a hotel and navigating around an unfamiliar place. I know back roads, quaint spots for coffee and meals (check it, Thai kitchen was a 20 minute in and out for lunch today), and can relax. Also, I got to see good friends from my connection group here…Indianola may be my home, but I miss these folks and their weekly encouragement.

2. Seeing colleagues. It’s neat to upgrade from merely peers to colleagues…because on the educator side of things, some of the people who have been teaching for a bunch of years are technically my colleagues (and so I can learn from them). The collaborative spirit of the clinics and workshops means the old guard is [typically] just as eager to hear about the new stuff as the newbies are eager to hear about the tried and true. I love that. Also, my rapidly expanding network in the music ed community is reaffirmed with connections in sessions. I enjoyed that I got to talk with former professors of mine, see fellow Kodaly folks, and stop by a West Music Booth, as well.

3. New Ideas. I have KNOWN that a yearly plan, or at least longer-term plans are where I’m headed for the school year(s) to come. Granted, I have a bit of work to do to catch up from last year’s disasters in planning  learning experiences, so this year will look different than last year, but a couple sessions about planning were motivational for me to get on that to make my life easier. I am all about streamlining ;).

4. Repetition, repetition, repetition. One of the big-dog presenters this year is coincidentally married to the big-dog presenter from last year, and a lot of her stuff is repeated because they share philosophical curricular ideals in music. I love hearing it again because it reminds me that the work is purposeful. I also got a great list of books to pass on to our school librarian (woohoo, don’t have to spend my budget…and kids can take them home and share them WITH THEIR FAMILIES!).

5. Folk dancing and activities. General music functions on the premise that it’s supposed to be pretty fun, though work, for students. Sometimes the fun is weeks in developing for a particular activity (oh, you think that’s fun…well, just wait!), but in the crowd of musical adults, we caught on to REALLY fun folk dances and activities in minutes. I was smiling from year to ear while we square danced (note to self, try square dancing with students, it’s not so scary, as it turns out). A stick dance with a long accelerando made me giddy and excited. Seriously, folk dancing is so great. It takes a teacher with clear instructions and good preparation for the dance (which I’m learning to do slowly), but it’s so awesome.

6. Matierals. Most workshop handouts are really brief (boo) and seldom include all the links and notes mentioned in the talk, but they do point to really worthwhile references and resources (usually). It gets me out of my small knowledge in the field.

There’s more than six, to be sure, but I feel like putting on some music and knitting for a while. As I am still staying with family tonight I get to enjoy a great dinner and a movie tonight. Woohoo!

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