The last few weeks of October have been a whirlwind of conferences and meet-ups for me. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything that I’ve learned from the amazing educators I had the privilege of talking with. Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to.
I made a quick trip to Charlotte on October 19-20 to speak at the North Carolina Elementary Educators conference. This was my first time getting to present on Unshakeable and it was so awesome to finally start sharing that message with teachers. I had a wonderful time talking and sharing meals with my friends Laura Candler and Dave Burgess (that’s him above in full Teach Like a Pirate gear) and meeting the wonderful NCAEE board.
The next weekend, I helped coordinate a TeachersPayTeachers/blogger meet up here in New York City. We kicked off the get together at the BrainPOP office! I work one day a week for BrainPOP and the company was so gracious to host everyone for a brunch with all kinds of good stuff from the gourmet Italian marketplace Eataly. The picture in the top lefthand corner above shows our amazing views from the 17th floor BrainPOP office. Everyone got to hear a little bit about the future of BrainPOP and what’s new, including the free concept mapping tool which allows kids to use clips and images from BrainPOP movies to create digital concept maps. It’s really cool and I encourage you to check it out!
After BrainPOP, some people went to go see Broadway shows, while others of us wandered around the city. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and boutique shopping in Bryant Park for a long time, then walked over to Rockefeller Center where the holiday ice skating was already set up. (Who knew?) We visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, made a Starbucks stop, and then admired the changing colors in Central Park. Afterward, the entire group got together once again for an amazing Italian dinner.
On Monday morning, we made a visit to the TeachersPayTeachers office in Soho. Amy and the crew provided a delicious bagel breakfast for us and we got to not only see the office, but meet the entire staff. We even did a conference call with Adam to share our successes as well as suggestions for improving TpT. Every interaction I’ve had with TpT staff has just been so amazing–they truly care about the teachers who buy and sell on the site, and their dedication to us is unlike any I’ve seen in other companies.
A few days later, it was on to Milwaukee, WI, for me. I really enjoyed seeing the unique architecture of the city, and got to have lunch with some super talented and dedicated educators who are affiliated with The Center for Urban Teaching. We sat for hours talking about how they are transforming the lives of kids in poverty all around Milwaukee. They are an incredibly inspiring group and I will be sharing a lot more about their work on the blog soon.
That night, my dear friend Pernille Ripp drove an hour and a half to have dinner with me. We haven’t had a face to face conversation in a year and a half, and it was so wonderful to catch up in person. We ate at Mader’s, a very authentic German restaurant in Milwaukee. The Black Forest Cake was out of this world.
The next day was the Center for Urban Teaching’s annual conference. There were nearly 400 attendees, including a large group of teachers who traveled all the way from Central America to learn with us! I had the privilege of giving the keynote message and got to talk about the ideas in Unshakeable again. It was awesome! Afterward, I led two sectionals, which were shorter Q&A sessions for teachers to talk about strategies for having more joy in their everyday teaching. The conversations were just incredible. I’m going to have to put them in a separate post.
After lunch, I got to attend sectional sessions and had a chance to think deeply on more topics related to mindset and leadership. More info to come! We ended the day by generating the conference theme. Each attendee summed up the conference in one word, which was used to create a word cloud (pictured above on the left.) Those words were then narrowed down to the 5 most mentioned (pictured on the right.) Powerful, powerful words, right? Motivate, empowered, relationships, motivate, and hope.
The winning word, and therefore the conference theme, was HOPE. What an incredible message, and a really apt word for describing all the events I’ve experienced over the past few weeks. More than anything, our kids need hope, and our teachers need hope. We need to know that there are people who are doing amazing things in the world of education, and we need to share their stories widely to let others know it IS possible to be an agent of change.
I feel incredibly blessed to have spent so much time recently with people who are empowering and motivating teachers and kids, and giving them a message of hope. Change truly does come from relationships, and I am grateful for the new and established ones I’ve been able to celebrate recently.