The NABE conference I attended last week was an interesting experience for me. I was so looking forward to hearing the latest news on English Language Learners and being around the best of the best.
As the conference date appoached, I started hearing some drama regarding NABE. The first thing that I heard was that some key people in NABE had pulled out of NABE because they couldn't stand behind the direction NABE was going in. That concerned me a bit. The second piece of drama was about Ruben Navarrette, the columnist. Apparently he was billed as a guest speaker. Then when people found out that he was going to be a guest speaker, even when he has criticized bilingual education, there was a big backlash. He ended up not coming and I heard that NABE said that it was only a "typo" about Ruben Navarrette coming!
On Wednesday, the first day of the conference, I was pumped! I was in beautiful San Jose, and I was ready to get my handbook of workshops and start mapping out my daily plans. I tried to focus on courses that were specific to the needs of the English Learners at my school. I went to my first class and I was surprised to hear that what the speaker was saying. Everything she was talking about was old news to me. I stepped out at the break and found another class only to find the same information. Sadly, this is how the rest of the conference went.
The good news is that California is apparently way ahead of the rest of the nation when it comes to working with English Learners. The things that I heard being discussed were things that I (and my colleagues) have been doing for some time now. The bad news is that some places are really behind. In one of the workshops, the speaker spoke about how important it is to use multicultural literature in the classroom. I thought to myself "duh!" Then I looked around and my neighbor was writing on her notepad "incorporate multicultural literature." I couldn't believe it!
I was also disappointed in the vendors. I love going through the Exhibit Halls to get all kinds of free stuff and to get info on materials I might like to use in the classroom. This time, it was not so great. I did get some good pens out of the Exhibit Hall but the vendors themselves were for the most part not so good. I asked several vendors for specific information about particular ELD programs that they offer. One of the vendors told me that she didn't even know anything about the products. What was she doing there then? Another vendor tried to b.s. his way through product description. I hate liars! The best thing about the exhibit hall was the Ballet Folklorico that provided the entertainment. They were awesome!
I think that I will probably not go to another NABE conference. I have not given up on CABE, the California version of NABE, though. I am going to sign up for that conference next year. Heck... I might even try to be a presenter!