A feast of freebies...

A feast of freebies...

Auckland recently hosted the 8th International Confederation of Principals (ICP) convention, adding its name to an illustrious list of venues that includes Cape Town, Geneva and Edinburgh. The event attracted about 1200 people from around the world. It really was quite a coup to get it to our shores – though, sadly, I didn’t feel it had the media impact locally it deserved.

Of particular note were the nearly 60 exhibitors, spread out across several floors of the Aotea Centre. I was surprised to find three purveyors of flooring (tiles, carpets, etc). I guess it must be a school principal thing. But I’m pleased to report that ICT was well represented, by vendors both large and small. In keeping with the event, Sony had created a whole hi-tech classroom to make people feel at home – although the interactive whiteboard, games consoles, microscopes and digital cameras aren’t quite what I remember from school.

During a lull in proceedings, I always enjoy perusing the sideshow; seeing who’s pushing, promoting and unveiling what – and, most importantly, who’s giving away what. It’s fun to get a freebie.

Most had pens at the ready. ASB pushed the boat out with a grey pencil and the Visiting International Faculty Programme, (which aims to attract people to work as teachers in the US), had a pen and a pencil – clearly a powerful combo for educators… or was I missing something here?

There was the usual smattering of confectionery. HP had some lollies; Edtech Network Services a selection of sweets (Minties, Mackintosh toffees, that sort of thing); Heinemann and SchoolGate boasted jelly beans; the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council had a very cute looking chocolate bunny that turned out to be a bilby (a marsupial, native to Australia), which was apt considering the organisation’s roots.

There were a handful of stress balls (no pun intended) – one was even shaped like an apple, which had me stumped a bit until someone took me to one side and explained the concept of ‘the apple for the teacher’.

There were stickers, posters, notepads, a huge plastic T-square, and cuddly toy tigers on the Tiger Turf stand (although I’m not sure I should have taken one of these…) There was even a diamond. Specialist school outfitter Distinction (a diamond sponsor of the event, hence the precious stone) was giving it away to the lucky person who guessed its value. This turned out to be $4300, which is hardly to be sniffed at. It was a nice touch. And, lastly, an honourable mention should go to Te Mana and Programmed Maintenance Services for providing some highly decent coffee.

All in all, it was impressive stuff and most had gone to a lot of trouble, well done guys. Of course, there has to be winners and losers. The impromptu Hearing Voices Freebie Awards are as follows:

Best sweets: Konica Minolta – mints in a box

Best pen: Scholastic New Zealand – flip-out pen on a cord

Best precious stone: Distinction – diamond

Best stress object: Programmed Maintenance Services – stress hammer

And overall? The Supreme Champion? Has to be the stress hammer. It’s just great. Everyone should have one!

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