Professional Development

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A Look Behind the Scenes: Creating a Convention Participants Love

The NAA Convention is an incredible four days, bringing together afterschool professionals and leaders for networking, learning and inspiration.

Year after year, we hear from participants that their No. 1 reason for attending Convention is the learning opportunities.

With more than 200 top-quality, engaging sessions covering almost any topic you can think of, led by experts in the field, it's easy to see why professional learning is a highlight of Convention.

No pressure for our NAA Convention Sessions Selection Committee, right?

Creating Convention programming and reviewing and selecting sessions doesn't happen overnight. It involves a lot of planning, reading, discussing and, of course, caffeine. As members of the Sessions Selection Committee, we want to take you behind the scenes of the process so you can see how we create a Convention that we are proud of and, most important, that you love.

Our work begins in late October, just after the call for proposals is closed. Our team organizes the session proposals we've received and the Sessions Selection Committee—made up of NAA staff members, board members, partners and on-the-ground afterschool professionals—pulls out our reading glasses, puts on our thinking caps and digs into our stack of proposals. The committee reviews each and every proposal we receive.

Then, in mid-November, the committee comes together for a coffee- and snack-fueled day to discuss the session proposals we've all read. In sharing our reflections and feedback, we get a sense of what you—the NAA community—are looking for at Convention. We discuss the topics that are most important to you and the best practices that are working in programs across the country. One of our favorite parts of the day is talking about your creative, engaging, hands-on ideas. With topics ranging from using DJ-ing and filmmaking to teaching young people about STEM and innovative ways to empower staff, reading your proposals make us more excited for Convention than the holidays!

At the end of our session selection day, we leave a conference room filled with Post-Its, printouts and our Convention program. We love having the opportunity to put together an event for the afterschool field that inspires, re-energizes and honors the important work you do.

Most important, we're incredibly impressed with and proud of what the NAA community contributes to make Convention what it is. With your bold, brave and brilliant ideas, you truly are the creators of Convention.

We are so proud to be a part of the Sessions Selection Committee and the NAA community. We encourage you to join us and 2,000 fellow afterschool professionals and leaders in New York City this spring to share knowledge, gain tools and resources to bring back to your programs, connect with new friends, and lead the charge to keep afterschool great. We have no doubt that you'll leave Convention saying, "I've found my people ... and learned a lot, too!"

We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 NAA Convention in New York City on March 15 – 18. Register today!

Written by Heidi Ham, National AfterSchool Association and Shaina Cook, Collaborative Communications.

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