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You can go home again!

I spent the earlier part of this week down in Storm Lake, Iowa at the King's Pointe Waterpark Resort participating in a conference held by the local Area Education Association for educators from area schools - including my K-12 alma mater. I can now safely state that after being gone for nearly 40 years, no one is left that knew you when and that you can safely pass yourself off as an expert.

One of the nicest things about this conference was that on the last day, the teams from the various schools got two whole hours to reflect, plan and journal. How often does that happen at a conference?

On a personal note, it was a great chance to reconnect with family. Since my mom, aunt and brother all still live in the area and my own kids and grandkids were free to spend a couple days at the resort, it became a mini-family reunion. We, like I suspect many families, love each other dearly - in small doses.

Paul charms his great aunt and great grandmother with a Calvin face.

Grandson Miles reminded me of the simple things a 2-year-old regards as wonderful. When asked what his favorite part of the Kung Fu Panda movie we all watched one evening, he honestly replied, "The preview for Wall-E." (I doubt that was the response the studio was looking for.) My putting a quarter in the vending machine for a handful of jelly beans was remarked upon several times - "Mom, Grandpa buys me jelly beans." Would we all retain the delight in being gifted a jelly bean.

The waterpark itself was great fun. The slide pictured below reminded me of a lesson I learned at my first visit to such a place.

Most parks have similar slides with vividly descriptive names like The Kamikazi, The Death Drop or The Plunge of Terror. The first time I tried one one of these I climbed the seemingly endless stairs to the top, tucked a rubber mat between my legs (not a good sign), and sat staring over the edge of the precipice, scared spitless. After a few minutes of working up some courage, I heard a small voice behind me, A girl who looked to be about 4-years-old, said, "Hey mister, if you aren't going, get out of the way let the rest of us take a turn." I was humilated, pushed off and still have some the water from that slide in my sinuses 25 years later.
In her little book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, author Susan Jeffers suggests that "The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it." Based on my ride down that first "death drop," I'd say she was right. I love such slides to this day...

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Reader Comments (3)

I absolutely LOVE that beautiful family photo! What a great shot! Kinda says it all!

June 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Putnam

That reflection time at the end of a conference is a great idea! It is so important to be able to process all the different ideas and make connections to one's own situation. The best in-service workshop I've ever attended was run by our Literacy Coach. She and the principal co-presented about embedding reading strategies into our lesson plans. We then had the whole afternoon in our 2 adjoining computer labs to work on our own specific lessons. It was great. We had time to think alone if we wished, we had everyone in the same vicinity so we could collaborate if we needed to, and we had access to the presenters for assistance and ideas all afternoon. It is a workshop where the content will stay with me because we were given an opportunity to think, to write and to plan. Perfect. Our literacy coach has just begun a new blog called Literacy Toolbox

Glad you got to combine some of your conference time with family time. I always enjoy seeing pictures of the beautiful area you live in.

June 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry

Thanks, Jacquie. I should also mention that the organizers created "reflection booklets" that were included in all the registration packets - blank spaces for recording notes and ideas for each session attended and a space for an action plan.

All the best,


June 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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