I’m just a LITTLE excited about the American Alliance for Theatre and Education conference in San Francisco this August. It’s the one conference I try to get to every year, whatever myfinancial circumstances. I make it happen. My first year, when it was in Minneapolis, I got a sweet hotel deal– 30 miles from the conference and took the city bus back and forth. For the first couple years I went a big part of the thrill of conference was just being in an unfamiliar city and learning my way around town. It’s been a good way to see a little bit of the world each summer.
The main reasons I love being a part of AATE are the professional development and networking opportunities at conference and the sense of community I have when I’m there. AATE is unique in that it brings together people from a lot of different sectors of theatre education– teaching artists, high school drama teachers, fourth grade teachers, TYA playwrights, university professors… the diversity is its strength. I find it striking how strong a connection I feel to several regulars at conference, even though I don’t see them any other time of year. It is my place to renew my commitment to theatre for young audiences and arts education.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in education was from my Instruction and Curriculum teacher in grad school. He said that, whatever field you are in, you need to join at least one professional organization. Even if you’re still in undergrad, even if your resume is still very short, membership in an organization dedicated to advancing the field is invaluable.