TCEA 2020

What an incredible two weeks of learning {Facebook blog from last week coming soon}! If you have not had the opportunity to attend TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) yet, you must add it to your list of can’t-miss-conferences. I have been going to TCEA for about 10 years and it seems that every year gets better and better. One of the reasons, in my opinion, is the amount of connections made with those who share the same passions. There is definitely something to be said about surrounding yourself with innovative minds who have a common goal to help students achieve learning goals. 

Learner

At my core, I am always learning and wanting to learn and so conference time always gives me the opportunity to stretch my capacity for what is possible and what I know. I explore sessions, first, that I know nothing about or that I am fully aware I have not 100% grasped yet. Here are a few sessions that inspired me: 

•ARVRJaime Donnally: I attended two of her sessions and I did the same last year. For me, it is never enough. I always find myself wanting to learn more from her and be more comfortable in the ARVR Education space. Her sessions are always hands-on and get me out of my comfort zone. {I still haven’t gotten my MergeCube but it IS on my list!}

•eSports – I find myself so intrigued by the entire concept of this idea. Could it be that I am a kid of the 80’s and knew at an early age that I loved all things tech including Atari and Nintendo games? I still don’t have my brain wrapped around the idea fully, but want to explore more and see what that might look like in my district. I approached this one pretty slow and gathered some notes and names of go-to people.

•DigCit Marialice, well, if you know her then you know. Thankfully, James {Wakelet} connected us last year. After one Google Hangout call we were friends for life. I don’t often meet people that get as excited as I do about the possibilities of working with students and digital citizenship! I planned to see Marialice’s session, but a week or so before TCEA she asked me to present with her. So I put some Buncee slides together and highlighted how SWAT and I are creating a better digital space online and in our school community. Even though I was part of the presentation I found myself taking notes and photos of things I wanted to remember. Shoutout to fellow panelists Michael Drezek and Laura Steinbrink

•“Not in the App” Sessions – These are the conversations that happen while waiting in line for the bathroom, for a session, while sitting in a session or after the day is over during dinner or meet-ups. These conversations may last a few minutes or a few hours, but for me these connections grown me as an educator sometimes more than a “sit-n-get” session. Shoutout to Patrick (@edtechmcmillian) and Stephanie (@lispylibrarian) for the great discussions and learning! You inspire me! 

•Creativity is my Jam Brian Romero Smith, Amy Storer, Marialice, & Claudio: So I first went to support my friends, but then like always that turned into a learning party, reunion with friends, selfies and me wanting to learn more about all the creativity apps this panel showed! Two things I walked out with: 1) Even though I cannot rap to save my life {without the Eminem karaoke soundtrack} Flocabulary can help! 2) My designs don’t need to be perfect in order to show students and offer them the opportunities to use them to create in the classroom. 

Presenter

I didn’t start sharing and presenting until I had been in education for 13 years and then had to take 4 years off to care for my #superJace who is childhood cancer survivor. Finally in 2017, I decided it was time to start sharing again and push myself out of my comfort zone once more. I always have to remind myself that presenting never means I have all the answers. It is an opportunity to share what I’m doing and learning in my own classroom with my students and teachers.

Flipgrid – So many times when I set out to create a new presentation I feel like it is not my best work (if you know about the enneagram personality profiles – I am a 1, so this makes complete sense 😂 ). This was the case as I finished this year’s Flipgrid presentation “ Innovation, Inspiration and Leadership.” Even as a seasoned presenter, I wondered if it would help anyone at all. I quickly realized there are so many incredible facets to the Flipgrid platform that we ALL got something out of it!  After both sessions, I left wishing I had more than 50 minutes with the attendees. I can tell you that without Flipgrid, I would not have been able to pull off assessing @SWAT, my student leader tech team. This tool keeps getting better and as a founding ambassador I can tell you that the Flipgrid team is one of the best to work with! If you have yet to use Flipgrid, please reach out to me! I would love to connect and share!

Buncee – One of the things that really attracted me to use Buncee was their backstory and the fact that Michael Drezek recommended it to me. {Ha! If you don’t follow Drezek, go now!} So after using it about 7 months, they asked me to share at the TCEA Buncee booth. Ironically, about that same time, one of my students surprised me by telling me each time she had a choice to create something at school she was using Buncee. I, immediately, scheduled time with her to sit side-by-side with me so she could give me feedback on my presentation! This group made sharing so much fun and they are always so helpful!

Wakelet- If you don’t know about Wakelet or the fact that they have taken the EDU scene by storm, 🤷🏻‍♀️. Every single session I was in at TCEA referenced their “Wakelet Collections.” Whether it was for additional resources, their main presentation medium, or how they were using Wakelet to house their student activities, portfolios or their own lessons. I shared so much about Wakelet and how the Fligprid and Buncee integrations can go right into a collection that I lost my voice! In addition, I enjoyed sharing at their TCEA Booth about their new Student Ambassador Program and how I was using the tool with my teachers! SWAT and I had the honor of working with the team on the Student Ambassador tasks, learning goals, and feedback to make it the best flow for students around the globe. If you’re interested in bringing hands-on digital citizenship into your classroom for FREE, check it out and sign up here

Other Highlights

Spazmatics – this band has become a TCEA bonding experience from some of us and this year was no different! They play every Wednesday night at 9 on Cedar Street in Austin and put on a great show! This year it even SNOWED while we enjoyed their 80’s flashback concert.

#TCEA2020

Why it Pays To Go To #TIA

#TIA is North Texas’ premiere technology conference and is located in Denton, Texas. I’ve been going to the last couple of years, but this year topped them all. Mainly, because our district had 20+ people join, including a few of our assistant superintendents.

It’s not only growing in numbers, but it’s a great local tech conference that is only about 15 minutes away from my house/district. Braswell HS was the new location and that place is gorgeous!

As far as conferences go, TIA is one of the most affordable! I add a note on my calendar every spring to be looking for the registration information. And this year, I took advantage when they sent out the call for presenters. If you don’t believe you have what it takes to present, go read this NOW! Teachers NEED you!

TIA not only had great keynote presentations from Dave Burgess and Eric Sheninger but also many of the teachers I’ve met on my Twitter PLN were there. I got to meet a few of them for the first time, including, Ryan Miller and Claudio Zavala, who are both fellow Flipgrid Ambassadors with me! And, of course, there were some of our closest PLN friends from Prosper, Texas: Miranda Hansen and Michelle Phillips

Why go to #TIA? FOR THE PEOPLE! I’m telling you, it will open up opportunities and ideas for you that you never imagined! I actually plan at least one hour a day for just networking! Relationships is one of my personal life values and so I’m intentional about finding and connecting with others.

On Monday night I was able to join Dave Burgess and Aaron Hogan for the Monday night #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate) twitter chat. THAT was an incredible experience to be there as it was happening live! I also met some great NEW people who I’ve added to my PLN like Lexi  and  Julie, who has the BEST #sketchnotes

Why go to #TIA? FOR THE MESSAGE! It isn’t alway about the sessions or the specific tools you learn about. Those things are GREAT (shoutout FLIPGRID) but the messages I walked away with EMPOWER me and get me ready to go back and empower my Ts and Ss. I, firmly believe, that what you surround yourself with is what you become. That goes for people, books, movies, music, etc. When you surround yourself with educators who do what you do, are challenged by the same things you’re challenged by, and are seeking to be better, you, too will be better.

One of the messages I took away this week was: “DON’T STOP BLOGGING!” I’ve kept a personal blog for almost 10 year and especially blogged our journey with #superJace and his battle with #childhoodcancer. I remember critical voices wondering WHY I would blog about that and reveal so much but this week I realized it was necessarily for THEM. It was for ME.

The same goes for this blog. If an educator is empowered by a post or a presentation I share with them here, then I’m thrilled! But this blog is also for ME to reflect and share and keep myself accountable. Thankfully, I can write a few posts at once and schedule them out with Tweet Deck.

Here’s a great blog on WHY to blog. See what I did there?

Another message I received was: Myths are just Myths! They only reflect our fears not our truths!  I’m just now reading Aaron Hogan’s book “Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth,” but I can tell you he is going to be speaking my language! Sadly, I didn’t make it to his session in time this week. They were standing room only and I ended up standing in the hallway! 🙂

Why go to #TIA? For the Growth! Anytime you get outside your classroom, your school and your district you’re guaranteed to be out of your comfort zone. I often tell my friends and students that when you start feeling uncomfortable you can bet you’re growing and stretching! In order to foster growth in our Ss or our Ts, WE HAVE TO GROW! There’s no other way around it!

This week I grew in the idea that I’m ME and that’s the best super power I can have. I have a 1% that is different from everyone else and if I don’t share that no one else can give it to them! Critics have often said I’m too happy, too excited, too joyous about change  and sometimes I’ve let those voices control me and hold me back. I’ve decided that is NOT how I roll anymore.

Top 2 Takeaways from #TIA17 in video form: https://flipgrid.com/006b89

Empowering Educators Everywhere,

Tisha (@txtechchick)