24 February 2009

2009 NATA Educators Conference

Every other year, I have the opportunity attend a professional conference that focuses on athletic training education. This is my very most favorite conference to attend because it focuses so directly on my profession as an athletic training educator.

This year, the conference was held at the Gaylord National Harbour Resort in Washington, DC and was focused on reaching the millennial student. I submitted my dissertation as a poster presentation and since the abstract was accepted, I had the chance to share my results and discuss them with colleagues and experts from across the country. As the conference approached, I became more and more nervous because I truly despise my dissertation. I'm embarrassed of it and there are many really not great experiences that contribute to my feelings about my dissertation. However, because my abstract was accepted, I needed to do the presentation.

I worked on the poster and got it looking very sharp and clear. I reread my dissertation, found lots of errors, and refreshed my memory of what it is I actually did and found. I also started stressing. You know, the whole knots in the stomach thing... By the time it was time to fly to Washington, DC, I was dreading the conference and wondering what in the world I had been thinking to submit my dissertation and have to discuss it in a public forum...

We arrived in DC on Friday evening after some flight issues. If you've every traveled with me, you'll know what I'm talking about. The flight to Atlanta was fine, but when we boarded the flight to DC, the problems began. There was no room for luggage. The flight attendant told me to put my bag somewhere, but a woman had her bag of crystal (who brings crystal on a plane?!) and didn't want my bag near hers. I finally got to sit down and the pilot came on and said we had to deplane because there was a hydraulic leak in the wing. We got off the plane and then waited for another plane. By the time I got on that plane, they had to check my suitcase and I was the last one to sit between 2 grumpy women. Of course, when we arrived in DC, my bag was the last one to come off the belt. Who knows how the last bag you put on the plane is the last bag to get off the plane? Anyone?!

We arrived at our very nice hotel after a scary cab ride with a driver suffering from extreme road rage. The rooms were nice (should be for over $200 a night) and we had dinner at the sports bar. After wandering around for awhile, I finally found the fitness center and proceeded to run for 45 minutes, which is a very very bad idea after eating a cheeseburger. Yikes... I fell asleep around 11pm and was wide awake at 2am. Oh happy day...

Breakfast was at 7am and then it was off to meetings. The morning sessions were okay, except that I'm pretty sure I heard them 5 or so years ago at ISU. In fact, I think I may have heard the same presentation at least 4 times over the past few years. This was a bit frustrating, but did remind me that I work at a very forward thinking institution that was prepared for millennial students long before now. We had lunch and then some breakout sessions that gave me some good ideas for my teaching, as well as some new things to think about. We grabbed dinner and then headed back for the poster presentations.

I should probably mention that I only rented my dinner for maybe 30 minutes because I threw up before heading back down to stand in front of my poster and be grilled. I was dreading it. Well, it actually turned into a very positive situation. I was so surprised because my colleagues thought it was a good study and said that I asked some questions that really need to be addressed. I had several long conversations about the topic and only felt like a moron once. The smartest athletic training educator in the country asked me a question that I couldn't really answer and I truly felt like an idiot, except that after I admitted my dumbness, he said that he's struggled with the same question so then I didn't feel quite as dumb. I actually felt like maybe I need to get this stupid (still despise it) dissertation published because there are some people who are interested in what I looked at and there is a need for the information to be shared.

Sunday morning was a couple of open sessions that had the potential to be really good, but some not good thinkers asked some really dumb questions and reminded me how nice it is to work with reasonable, intelligent people who think before they open their mouths. I went to a really great breakout session and learned some really cool stuff that I'm planning on using in my classes next year. i spent the rest of the afternoon discussing research ideas and issues and feeling glad that I went to the conference.

So, my takeaways from the conference...and maybe even action items. I need to get my dissertation written up. I think I can get two articles out of it and I need to just get it done and get it out there. I have a few research ideas that I want to start developing and maybe even complete. I want to look into qualitative research and grants and see what's out there. One more thing...although, I was traveling, I did get my workouts in and done and that makes 3 weeks in a row of getting all workouts done.


Adrianne said...

Congratulations AJ! That's so great!! You've sure accomplished some amazing things! I love the DC area. I hope you got to see some of the sites while there.

Barb said...

I"m glad you're back home safe and "even" sound! All conferences are good experiences...glad you went, and glad it's over. Missed you.

See You at the Finish Line said...

Well done AJ,
I knew your dissertation was better than you gave yourself credit for all along. Perhaps that educator (the best athletic educator in the country) challenged you with the question because he recognized your abilities and intellect. Since he has struggled with the question himself, perhaps he was hoping you could provide an answer. :)