This year, I was able to attend TCEA on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I went with one of our amazing science/social teachers, Desiree Toombs. While I would have loved to stay all week, this was just enough time to attend several sessions and meet lots of new people.
On Tuesday, I was able to present with an amazing group of girls including Jaime Donally, Fran Siracusa, Kari Espin, Lisa Monthie, Cassie Reeder, and Deb Atchison. I was so surprised to find out that Fran was calling in from Clearwater to share during the session as I had met her at LaunchMe with Brad Waid back in October. It was so fun to realize that connection and be able to say hello again. I also had a blast sharing laughs (as usual) with Kari and Lisa. Jaime did an amazing job sharing Live Video Streaming and we played a fun game with puzzle pieces that gave everyone a chance to experience the different tools that we were sharing.
I also stopped by the TCEA Radio Booth to say hello to my sweet friend Christy Cate who was amazing all week. She did such a great job keeping us updated and interviewing so many people throughout the conference. She is one of the sweetest, friendliest people that I know and I can't wait to hang out with her when I visit Region 14 in Abilene this summer!
Wednesday morning, I was lucky enough to present Genius Hour with Don Wettrick. Don has played such a huge role in changing my mindset. After meeting him and learning from him over the last two years, my mindset and reasons for teaching have completely changed. I no longer see my classroom as my own but instead see it as a space for my students innovate, create, and learn based on their passions. I understand that my students deserve time in their school day to make connections and learn about things that are important to them. Presenting with Don was such an awesome experience and one that I will remember for a very long time.
Then it was lunch time with one my favorite GT educators, Terri Eichholz. I love her blog, Engage Their Minds, and I learn so much from her on Twitter! We were able to catch up, share some laughs, and hang out. Her passion for doing what is best for students is so contagious and I absolutely love chatting with her every chance that I get.
After several great sessions that afternoon, it was time for some relaxation with great friends. I am such a fan of so many of the educators from Weatherford ISD. I absolutely adore Amanda Rogers, Shelly Stout, Jacqueline Rose, and the rest of their crew! They are so passionate about giving their students opportunities to be innovative and creative. It seems they always have something new to share and contribute. We chatted over dinner and came up with some amazing ways for our students to collaborate and connect. The AMAZING Jaime Donally joined us and kept us laughing. She is so full of energy, passion, and ideas. I am so thankful that we connected as I learn so much from her every time we are together.
Wednesday evening, we joined the #gueri11aed and #txeduchat for a Tweetup. All I can say that is Region 11 rocks! How could it not with amazing people like Charles Cooper, Tom Kilgore, and Tracie Cain? They are doing amazing things and I am so excited for Elementary Con in June! I feel like I already knew Tom Kilgore but we were able to meet face to face and share more about what we do in education. Such a great time connecting and collaborating with some of the very best! Cassie Reeder and I chatted about Genius Hour and I can't wait to hear the amazing things that happen as she introduces it to her students.
I started Thursday morning with the hilarious Laura Kile. I met her when I presented in Midland last summer and we became fast friends. She always makes me laugh and has such an amazing personality. Being able to run into her and then spend time catching up was such a treat!
After my presentation on Thursday, it was time to say goodbye. I had made so many connections and was reminded of why my PLN is so important to me. They are the ones that keep me going, encourage me to do things that are WAY outside of my comfort zone, and give me the courage that I need to be real about what is best for my students. I don't know that they will ever know the impact that they have on my classroom each day but I am better because of their awesomeness!
So, until next year...