Learning, Connecting, and Growing at #TCEA14

This week I got to spend some time at the annual TCEA Conference.  TCEA is the Texas Computer Education Association, the largest technology conference in the nation outside of ISTE.  This was my 6th year that I’ve had the to opportunity to attend and it’s always a favorite of mine.

Stacey and I drove in after work on Monday evening.  We caught dinner with our good friends Wendy Sanders and Jake Duncan then headed to sleep to get ready for the next day of fun!

Tuesday started bright and early with our first session Stacey and I were leading at 8am.  This year we decided to do something a little different. We called our session “Tech Ninjas” and instead of just Stacey and I standing up there sharing our favorite tech tools, we invited a few of our former “Honorary Tech Ninjas” to share their tools along with us!  Some of our friends like Matt Gomez, Jon Samuelson, Wendy Sanders, Jake Duncan, Andrea Keller, and more shared their tools.  It was such a fun and different way for us to do our session.  It was also pretty cool that our 8am session and our 1:15pm session were both FULL sessions with over 200 people in each one.  Such a great time sharing our favorite tools.

Tuesday night was also the TCEA Educator Awards, and it was such an honor to even be nominated as TCEA Teacher of the Year, but then when I won the Award that night, I was truly honored.  I have always loved being a part of TCEA and the fact that I now get to represent the organization and the state of Texas is mind blowing and truly humbling.  I can’t wait to represent my state and organization at ISTE this upcoming summer.

Wednesday & Thursday I was able to present over my Flipped Classroom and PBL and got a lot of great feedback.  I just absolutely love sharing the things we’re doing in class and how amazing my kids are.  I also loved getting to share the video my students recently created about the ways they would change the world.  I got to be such a proud teacher showing off my kiddos.

Then last minute Janet Corder was asked to be a part of an App Smackdown panel in one of the Ballrooms.  It was such a blast to work and present with some friends of mine who I’ve never got to present with before!

I also got to spend quite a bit of time catching up with two of my friends (Christine and Brett) from Remind101.  I have always loved using Remind101, but the thing I love the most is the incredible team that’s running that company.  I still can’t believe that I even get to call people like Christine and Brett my friends because they are such awesome people.  Getting to just hang out at the booth, go to a few meals, and even pose in a photo booth are moments I will remember for a while.  TCEA memories are made when you connect with people and I am so glad that Brett and Christine were able to come this year!

The other true joy of the conference for me was FINALLY getting to meet Shannon Miller.  I’ve met her online and via GHO, but finally getting to meet her in person, WOW!  She is such an incredible woman and educator.  I could have literally sat with her all day just talking and learning from her.  I would also say she is such a genuine and kind person.  It was a true highlight of mine getting to spend a little time with Shannon!  Can’t wait to spend time again!

But the true joy of learning at an event like TCEA are the moments I was able to connect face to face with so many people I follow on twitter.  The conversations at meals, in the Digital Square, the Exhibit Hall, and more are the moments I truly cherish.  There is no better learning opportunity than to sit with a few amazing educators and let them talk about awesome things they’re doing in their classrooms.  I gain far much more from those personal conversations then any session I ever attend.

Celebrating with Amy, Mindi, Lindsay, Matt, Wendy, Jake, and Stacey.  Eating meals with Don, Ronnie, Brett, Christine, Victor, and Stacey.  And spending time with Terri, Daisy, Angela, Andrea, Kevin, Jerry, Karen, and more.  I could go on and on listing all the awesome connections and time spent learning.

TCEA has always been one of my favorite conferences and this year was no exception.

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