In a less-tense atmosphere than a year ago, Utah's teachers will gather Thursday and Friday Oct. 11 and 12 in the Salt Palace for their annual convention.

The Utah Education Association meetings will feature general sessions, specialty meetings, exhibits and a variety of activities to refresh and educate the educators.While their teachers attend meetings, nearly a half million schoolchildren will enjoy a two-day holiday.

UEA President Lily Eskelsen said the objective of the convention is to provide new information, advance innovative teaching techniques and update teachers on technological advances.

"If we can provide the solution to just one student's dilemma for each teacher, we have made a significant impact on both that teacher's professional life and the life of that child," she said.

Almost 40 professional education affiliates will hold sessions during the convention.

Keynote speaker will be Bert Simmons, president of The Education Company. He is recognized as an expert in motivation, self-esteem and team building.

Gov. Norm Bangerter also will speak during the opening session Thursday, 9:30 a.m. A political rally will be held at noon the same day around the flagpole east of the Salt Palace. The association has invited "education-friendly" politicians to share their views with members.

Among special events scheduled to coincide with the UEA convention are:

- A workshop to teach parents and teachers how to help children bounce back from the problems of everyday living. Glenn Richardson, associate professor in the College of Health, University of Utah, along with other faculty, will present the session from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday and from 8:50 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday. The course offers one hour of credit. For information, call 581-8114.

- Project 2000's Kidspeak Forum will be presented Thursday, 1:15 p.m., in the Little Theater. Barbara Lewis and Ann Burnett will present the program, which gives Utah schoolchildren a sense of their ability to effect changes in their environment.

- Byrd Baylor, author of children's books, will speak to the Utah Educational Library Media Association meeting in West High School's library/

media center, 241 N. 300 West. The Friday presentation will begin with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and she will speak at 8 a.m. She is the author of three Caldecott Honor books and five American Library Association Notable books.

- Insurance expert Quinn McKay will discuss skyrocketing insurance costs and trends for the future. His talk will be Thursday at 11:20 a.m. in Room A-108 and is expected to include comments on the potential for a national health service. McKay is an adjunct professor at the University of Utah and former dean of Weber State College's business department.

- A discussion of "Thinking Skills for the 21st Century" will be conducted by Joyce Nelson, who will speak Friday at 10:10 a.m. in Room C-100-101. Her emphasis will be on the need for workers skilled in problem solving and dealing with real-life experiences.

- The Utah Music Educators of Utah will cap the convention with the annual Grand Festival Concert featuring outstanding music students from throughout the state. The concert will be in the Tabernacle on Temple Square at 7:30 p.m. Friday.