As it turns out, the Torah uMesorah teachers' convention isn't a secret convention only for Real Teachers. There is a pre-convention for principals but (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that isn't exclusive either. There were high school girls babysitting and on their breaks they came to the lectures too. I wish I'd known this when I was in high school. Tell your students.
Our route took us through Torah uMesorah history, passing a number of cities I know only from the history of the day school movement. Liberty, NY – R' Shraga Feivel had a camp near there. Scranton – also R' Shraga Feivel. Ellensville – that name is familiar, too.
Then we walked into the hotel and into the Torah uMesorah present, a grand courtyard all draped with Torah uMesorah banners and filled with the murmur of mechanchim networking.
Networking means walking up to random people to ask them what they teach and how and how do you make class interesting to your twelfth-graders? It is the most fun I have had in a drawing-room, ever.
(Incidentally, my favorite answer to the question of how to engage teenagers came from the babysitters. Make it practical, they said. Practical, practical, practical.)
It was delightful to share a chatzer with a few hundred mechanchim. It was also delightful to giggle with all few hundred at once in response to amusing moments in the lectures. And it was a great privilege and delight to hear great talmidei chachamim addressing questions on Jewish education.
Here are some points that stood out to me from over the weekend. Some were new, some just timely.
Please read with caution – I often misquote people.