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Jeffrey Elkner

Baby steps: Learning how to (and how *not* to) table at a convention

NEA Members for Our Revolution took a step forward during the past few days when our Virginia affiliate had a table at its state convention.

While that in and of itself is an accomplishment, a frank assessment of how we did and the lessons we can learn as we prepare for the 2018 NEA RA this July is essential.

Firstly, we need to make effective preparation of materials and table presentation well before arriving at the convention. Our table was next to the Student Virginia Education Association table. A few pictures are worth a thousand words.

How to prepare a convention table

SVEA table

How not to prepare a convention table

VEA4OR table

Since the SVEA represents the future our union, I am delighted at being schooled by them in how things should be done, but with more than 8000 participants from every state in the country coming to Minneapolis in July, I need to learn my lesson fast and begin planning now.

A preliminary list of ToDo items includes:

  • Assemble a collection of eye catching, fun, and informative materials for display at the table.
  • Arrange to have these items sent to the convention site before the convention.
  • Get commitment well ahead of time from a group of volunteers to staff the table.

In spite of poor planning, progress

Even though I dropped the ball in preparing for our table at the VEA convention this year, all was not lost. We did sign up over half a dozen new members from around the state. The software developer of our association management system, Douglas Cerna, responded in real time to feedback about the on-line sign-up form, making changes between Friday and Saturday that greatly improved the sign-up process. The sign-up form is now tablet ready and much easier to use. A few more refinements will make it ready for us to use in Minneapolis.