Friday, July 1, 2011

CATFACS Winter Conference

As second semester gets underway, and I feel moderately refreshed from winter break, I start to look forward to attending the CATFACS winter conference. The 2011 conference was the third time I have attended, and I have to say, as always it was an overall great experience. For me, one of the best parts of being at the conference is seeing teachers from all over the state who are experiencing the same things I am, who offer advice and praise, and who join together to create a family of educators with the same goal in mind. The positive support and encouragement felt while there, and the amount of resources I walk away with are enough to make a new teacher feel like the world of teaching FACS and advising FCCLA is not so scary after all.

One of the reasons I decided to become a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher was because of the close connection I felt to my advisor at Colorado State University, Dawn Mallette. From the moment I met her during an advising appointment she made me feel important in a sea full of students; a connection I had never felt with another adult on campus. She listened when I needed her, and offered countless pieces of valuable advice that helped me succeed in my college years. Through the courses I took with her, it was clear to see her commitment to Family and Consumer Sciences education and the FACS community. The connections she had in the FACS network seemed so genuine and valuable to not only her professional life, but her personal life as well. Seeing all the connections she had and collaborations she was a part of inspired me to strive for a similarly strong network of supporters and friends; thus my reason for joining CATFACS.

Of course, attending CATFACS is not just about the networking and connections. It always provides me with some great resources to take back to the classroom and a refreshed outlook on teaching, which in turn makes me a better teacher. Dr. James Rouse’s keynote speech was inspiring. He really made me think about the everyday choices I was making in my life. Especially those pertaining to the wellness of my mind and my body and how closely connected the two are. Hearing someone speak so positively about life and how the daily decision we make impact our overall health, motivated me to make simple changes. The workshop by Elaine DeBassige also gave me some food for thought. Her methods for understanding relationships have helped me better navigate the way I approach my students when an issue arises. I now try to understand if there is some underlying issue going on first, and then go from there to find a solution. She spoke with a strong neutral tone, which made it clear how important it is to hear both sides of the story. These two parts are the ones that had the biggest impact on my overall experience at the conference this year.
In the short time I have been part of CATFACS and a FACS teacher, its easy for me to understand the importance of this professional network. The amount of tools I add to my educator’s toolbox each time I attend is amazing. I always feel energized and ready to improve my work in the classroom after hearing all the ideas shared between teachers and industry professionals. It is also a great outlet for finding connections to individuals in the industries that relate to our curriculum. To be honest, without a network like CATFACS and all the wonderful people involved, I don’t think I would have enjoyed my first two years of teaching nearly as much as I have.

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