AURORA, CO — About 10 miles due east of downtown Denver, the Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center rises 10 floors up out of a flat field just across from Children’s Hospital and Anschutz Campus. The 249-room Aurora property is one of five full-service Hyatts in Colorado and the newest, built in 2016. I’d visited the hotel once, when it first opened, but last week, I returned; this time, not as a travel writer, but as a Spanish teacher attending the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers (CCFLT) annual Spring Conference (I teach grades 1–8 at Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder).
For years, the CCFLT Spring Conference has been held at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Loveland Hotel Conference Center & Spa, a practical, well-respected venue with a convenient location on Interstate-25 just south of Fort Collins. But the Hyatt Regency Aurora is more central, both for in-state and out-of-state attendees. It’s close to several Interstates, but far enough from downtown to avoid any congestion (there’s a nice long view of Denver and the mountains from the hotel’s top floors). It’s also only 20 miles from Denver International Airport, near an RTD Light Rail line, and across the street from a massive medical complex of hospitals.
CCFLT Spring Conference
For Colorado world language teachers, the CCFLT Spring Conference is one of the most invigorating conferences of the year. For two-and-a-half days, the Hyatt Regency Aurora was buzzing as 450 teachers took over the 36,000 sq. ft ground-level conference space and meeting rooms. They gave and attended more than 100 breakout sessions and talks. Organizers were especially creative with the cafe spaces, where speed-dating–like “avalanche” sessions were set up in each of the booths and nooks of the hotel’s breakfast spaces. In the product exhibit hall, teachers crowded each other to geek out over the latest Level 1 Spanish readers at the Fluency Fast table and 30 other vendors.
The general buzz was 10% coffee (which was good and strong and served all day) and 90% just being together with colleagues after a year of feeling alone in each of our classrooms, dispersed all over the state. In the end, of course, it was an excitement that proved that it didn’t matter whether we were in Loveland, Aurora, Broomfield, or wherever. It was about catching up, digging deeper, challenging each other, and growing as teachers. Of course, learning new activities and lessons to try out in class next Monday morning is a nice benefit too.
To give an idea of what else goes down at a language teacher conference, here are the sessions I attended:
- Making Reading Relevant, Low to no- prep ideas to make reading engaging and comprehensible. -presented by Anne Briotet
- Why Don’t They Like Reading? (And How to Change That!) -presented by Karen Rowan
- Ritmos y sones auténticos lloran por usarse desde el principio -presented by Douglas Bowman
- Facilitating Interpersonal Communication: Meeting the Challenge! -presented by Ying Jin
- Deeper Insights: Reading Texts with Compassionate Eyes -presented by Mira Canion
- Story Listening at the higher levels by Sabrina Janczak and Lynnette St George
- The Secrets of the Secret Password: The Tells and the Skills that Make it Work -presented by Bryce Hedstrom
Hyatt Regency Aurora rooms are either standard kinds or double queens, plus they offer a range of suites, going up to the presidential suite on the top floor, which has 1200 square feet, two bathrooms, and its own balcony with incredible views to the west. Amenities are many, from the cozy lobby fireplace and cafe gathering spaces, to the on-site restaurant and cafe, pool, laundry, and fitness center.
I spent the night there, to fully take in the conference and knock out part of my commute. Hotel staff was professional and helpful, but not over-the-top in-your-face. There was ample space to immerse myself in the conference or to fall back to process all the information I was taking in. Sunsets and sunrises were spectacular and seemed to go on for hours, before and after all the conference action, adding a dramatic flair to the location. I heard multiple colleagues mention that they hoped we’d be back next year.
IF YOU GO / LEARN MORE:
Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center is at 13200 E 14th Place Aurora, CO 80011 (tel. 303-365-1234). Rooms start at $129/night.
If you are a language teacher, consider joining CCFLT: Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers and I’ll see you at the next conference.