My #NAESP16 Experience

So, I’ve written and then deleted this post about 10 times now.  For whatever reason I just haven’t been able to feel like I’m getting the wording right.

So here goes again.

Time and time again, I talk about the power of being a connected educator.  Of putting yourself out there.  Sharing your ideas.  Connecting with others.  Being vulnerable, open, honest, and willing.  It hasn’t always been an easy road, and often times terrifying, but I’ve adopted the mantra “be brave”.

I just returned from attending the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) conference near DC.  Last year was my first time attending.  It also just so happens that the keynote speaker from last year, Erik Wahl, is who inspired me and Adam Welcome to start the movement (and write the book) #KidsDeserveIt.

Last year was my first time to meet people like Adam Welcome, Brandon Blom, Todd Schmidt, Theresa Stager, and so many more.  It was a great experience and one I got to have with my buddies Ben Gilpin and Brad Gustafson.

So when this year’s conference came around I knew I wanted to attend again.  I asked Brad Gustafson if he wanted to present together, and off the planning went!  Unfortunately Ben Gilpin and Adam Welcome both couldn’t attend this year.

As I geared up to head to #NAESP16 I was excited and somewhat nervous.  You see, though many think I have a boisterous personality, I’m actually quite uncomfortable and anxious in social settings.  But I was excited because I knew a few of my “Twitter Friends” (who are actually real life friends), would be there that I had already met, as well as some other people I couldn’t wait to meet face to face.

It’s funny how conferences work when you’re a “connected educator”.  You still attend sessions, like any traditional conference goer, but when you’re connected it’s a much richer experience.

You get to meet up with people you’ve never met face to face before but have talked to for weeks and months online.  You get to learn at a deeper level than ever before because conversations are that much more special with the people you’re having them with.  You get to laugh, and laugh a lot.

I always leave these conferences wondering if the people I meet, and choose to spend time with, truly know how much of an impact they’ve made on my life.  Professionally and personally.  I always tell people, I only surround myself with people I enjoy being around and make me better. I think of guys like Todd Schmidt, Brandon Blom, and Brad Gustafson…three guys who will probably never grasp the depth at which they inspire, challenge, and help me believe in myself.  People like Ross, Tony, Jessica, Lindsy, Liz, Lynn, Theresa, Dan, Mark, Andy, Nick, Jennifer, Joe, Julie, Kas, Kyle, and more.  Most of which I met for the first time face to face this week.

NAESP was a great learning experience for me, yet again, but even more so it was a great reminder of some of the incredible people I choose to surround myself with virtually.  People who make me laugh, make me cry, and make me believe that together we’re gonna change the world.

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