If you’re a teacher looking for useful sessions that will immediately improve your classroom, you might wonder “Is NAGC’s 2022 conference worth it?” (Now, I’m talking about the National Association for Gifted Children, not the other NAGCs!).
After attending and (attempting to) present for many years, I’d recommend that teachers avoid NAGC’s annual event and instead attend a state or local conference that’s really aimed at folks working with kids..
NAGC is simple not worth the price if you’re a teacher. It took me several years of attending to realize it, but NAGC is an organization by and for academics, even though the attendees are mostly teachers.
Leadership Doesn’t Match The Audience
It’s obvious once you look at the board. Nearly every person on the board is employed by a university, not a school district. Now, it’s obviously not a bad thing to work at a university, but it should be equally obvious that an organization run by academics is going to tilt towards the needs of academics – not classroom teachers.
If you are on an academic track, maybe this is the perfect event for you! But, as a teacher, I wish I would have known that NAGC’s conference was intended for a different audience than me. If you want an organization that benefits teachers, then teachers need to be in charge of the organization.
As a relatively new teacher who spent well over $1000 on plane tickets, hotels, registration, and all the incidentals (plus giving up a weekend), it was pretty disappointing to see so many sessions led by someone reading their research paper rather than teachers explaining lessons and techniques they had used in their classrooms.
In this way, NAGC is unlike any of the gifted education conferences I’ve been to. And I’ve been to most of them by now! No other conference puts academics in front of an audience teachers. The other conferences know that teachers want to hear from, you know, teachers!
At NAGC, people affiliated with a university make up about one fifth of conference attendees1 but more than half of the session leaders (yes I counted!) were affiliated with a university. And, since some of these PhDs spoke at up to 10 sessions (seriously), academics are even more over-represented on stage.
Despite being the majority of attendees, there are far fewer teachers speaking at the NAGC conference than university-affiliated people. Now, it’s fine if a conference wants to be a place where people can present research, but that should be made clear so teachers can attend a different event that’s designed for them.
Take a look at NAGC’s 2021 at-a-glance sessions and you’ll see what I mean. Academics simply dominate the stage even though attendees are primarily teachers.
If you’re on an academic track, perhaps NAGC is the conference for you! The hefty price might be totally worth it if you want to present research to other academics. But, if you’re a teacher or a program coordinator, I’d recommend supporting your state or local gifted conference. Those events tend to be run by people who work for school districts and, thus, naturally put teachers’ needs first. Based on my interactions with the folks in charge of NAGC, things aren’t going to change in 2022.
Now, one state doesn’t actually hold its own conference each year because NAGC takes over that state’s conference! The state’s normally teacher-focused event gets subsumed into NAGC’s academic event.
So, if NAGC ate your state’s conference, and/or you have a hankering to travel to a different gifted education conference, I’d recommend checking out Texas’ annual event. TAGT is a teacher-focused group that puts on a great event. Maybe I’ll see you there in 2023!