Ellen Kogut with friends and colleagues at the 2012 Conference.
Every two years, hundreds of Suzuki teachers gather at the Hilton Minneapolis for the Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference. The Conference offers presentations, workshops, masterclasses, and performances, as well as the incredible opportunity to connect with colleagues from all over the Americas.
With so many people and so much going on, it’s sometimes easy to feel a bit lost in the crowd. I remember feeling this way at my first Conference! But I also have great memories of other Suzuki teachers reaching out to welcome me.
I remember getting to one morning presentation a few minutes early. As I was sitting down and taking out my notebook, a teacher with short, sandy blonde hair sat down next to me. She introduced herself as Tammy Linn. She asked me where I was from and about my students back home. I told her about my background, and learned that she was based in Texas and had attended a number of Conferences in past years. I was struck by Tammy’s openness, her warmth, and her genuine interest in connecting. What a difference her gesture made to me as a young teacher! It still stands out to me as one of my nicest Conference memories.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone at this year’s Conference had a similar experience? We can all reach out to one another in various ways. Here are some ideas:
- Assist anyone who looks lost
- Make it a habit to introduce yourself to people sitting next to you
- Offer to accompany anyone sitting alone
- Invite a stranger to lunch or coffee with you
- Join an evening jogging group
- Introduce people you know to one another if they’ve never met
- Try speaking some Spanish or French to teachers whose first language is not English
- If you are a young teacher, make it a point to say hello to older teachers…and vice versa
- Spend some time downstairs in the common areas
Not sure what to say? Start with the basics! Ask…
- Where are you from?
- What instrument(s) do you teach?
- Is this your first Conference?
- What has been your favourite event so far?
- Have you been to any good restaurants in the area?
- Do you have kids? Pets? Hobbies?
Going out of our way to engage with one another can contribute to our individual experiences, and also the success of the Conference as a whole. We are a big group, but we can become tight-knit through the power of community!