This morning I woke up with an unfamiliar feeling. I wasn't worried about food counts or name badges. I wasn't worried about Sched or Eventbrite. I wasn't worried about school selections, site visits, or even check-in lists.
This morning was different.
For the last 10 months, my district, Berwyn South District 100, has been planning an epic 2Day event - the iEngage Berwyn EdTech Conference. That event took place on Friday 5/8 and Saturday 5/9, and much like a bride feels after her wedding day passes, I'm just not quite sure I was ready for it to be over!
I was in charge of the Registration Committee- which at first seemed like an easy enough job. Set up an Eventbrite Page, set up a Sched.org page, and ultimately check-in attendees on the days of the event. Let me tell you- it was all of that and more! Running a 2Day event in terms of registration means inputting all the sessions, overseeing all the schedules, planning and sending all communications, submitting the food counts, and more! I was more stressed for this event than I was my own wedding!
Luckily, though, I had help. I had a great registration committee who helped along the way and my husband went above and beyond to make sure everything ran smoothly for me on both days. He's a teacher, so he was an attendee of the event, AND an honorary member of my registration committee since he helped me check-in oodles of people on both days. A huge thanks to both him and my team- I couldn't have done it without you guys.
Now onto the actual conference reflection. I may be biased, but I think the event was AMAZING.
I was a site-visit leader on Friday (in addition to my registration/check-in job!!), and I can honestly say that I have never led a group of visitors around a D100 school before- but I was both shocked and proud at the things I witnessed and heard from both our visitors and our staff/students. I got to bring two different groups around Pershing Elementary School- the school where I am currently a Reading Specialist. It's my first year here (I spent the previous 6 at Freedom Middle School in the same district) and it has yet to really set in all of the amazing things that are happening.
As I walked around with our guests, it really was amazing how all the teachers in our K-5 building were go gracious and generous with opening up their classrooms to our guests. Both of my groups had 8-9 people in them and the teachers and students acted as if it were life as usual when they entered the rooms. They just continued on learning and leading as guests walked around, asked them questions, and even snapped pictures.
What I loved the most was the comments. People were in absolute awe at the things our kids were doing, the level of engagement they were experiencing, and the overall positive atmosphere of our school. Now- this is normal to me (and everyone else in D100). We don't think anything of it. So it's nice when outside visitors come in and remind us that we are really doing something special.
After the morning site visit- we loaded the bus and headed back to LaVergne for a delicious Big Guys Sausage catered lunch and an impressive keynote by Carl Hooker. I had seen Carl Hooker present before (last summer at the EdTechTeacher Summit at Navy Pier in Chicago) and he was just as amazing on Friday as he was then. Carl is obviously someone who loves teaching and loves inspiring teachers. Each time I have heard him talk, I leave entertained and enthused- something that is easier said than done in May sometimes! I was looking forward to this keynote tremendously and he did not disappoint.
We finished the second half of the site visits in the afternoon- still more happy tours and guests- and then it was on to the final events of the day. A 'Dream Big with myON' viewing party event and an adult Social Party where the Big Data Band performed. Both events were on-point and a great time was had by all.
As Saturday morning came bright and early at Heritage Middle School (the host of the 'conference' portion of the event), everything was ready to go for check-in again and this time I had my team to help so it went smoothly, of course. We welcomed back the 2Day guests and greeted the Saturday only guests, and pretty soon it was time to begin the opening keynote!
If you have never seen John Antonetti speak- find an event he is doing and beg to go! Seriously- he's amazing. Much like Carl, he is both entertaining and energetic- just listening to him speak makes you excited and then letting what he says soak in makes it even better. Somehow, with all the craziness going on, I still managed to get into his keynote, sit down, and be inspired. He's that good.
After the keynote, it was time for the sessions. I was presenting in the first two sessions of the day. I know what you're thinking right now. If she made the schedule, why did she book herself back to back? That's a very good question- I'm still wondering that myself!!
My first session was on a "Expert Reading Panel" hosted by Komensky Principal and District 100 Literacy Director Jeremy Majeski. He rounded up 5 awesome reading people from across the district and hosted a panel titled, "Reading and Technology: Will this Marriage Work?". It was an awesome experience to sit on a panel with Mary, Tim, Lynette, and Shauna and share our knowledge with our guests.
I left that session to go to one of my own sessions, Going Paperless in the 21st Century Classroom, which is one of my two sessions that I present at various conferences around the state. I had a great group and they were a wonderful audience. I think we all learned something new and it's never a bad thing to spread the word about Going Green! I was even lucky enough to have one of our conference VIPs Rich Voltz in attendance!
After the keynote and first two sessions, we had lunch, again catered with excellence by Big Guys Sausage of Berwyn, IL, and then got to witness a Leadership Panel made up of Dr. Rich Voltz (IASA Associate Director) and 3 Superintendents: Dr John Hutton (Gurnee D56), Nick Poylak (Leyden 212), and Dr. Tom Leonard (Eanes ISD). Coincidentally, Dr. Tom Leonard was actually the principal of my high school when I was there (Shout out to Barrington High School Class of '04!!) and he went on to be the Superintendent of CUSD 220 in Barrington before heading out to Austin, TX. It was great to see him. My little sister Sarah, currently a student at BHS, loved him and was so jealous that I got to see him! Their #powerpanel was amazing and I wish that every admin, teacher, board member, and community member could have seen it because it was all about the truth and realities of leading in today's society.
After the leadership panel, there was one more session and it was time for our closing keynote, the wonderful Kevin Honeycutt. I had never seen him speak before and he came very well hyped. Let me tell you, he did not disappoint. He made us laugh, he made us cry, and most importantly, he made us think. It was everything I could've hoped for and more in a keynote. I cannot wait until I get to see him again!
As I wrap this up, I just want to thank everyone who was a part of making this day possible. We had easily 10 or more different committees with a huge team of people behind them working for the last 10 months to make this event possible. It came, it was amazing, and now we just get to look forward to next year! If you missed the event and want to learn more, check out the website here or contact me for information!
And I will leave with this adorable shot that my Assistant Principal Dee Bazz snapped of my husband and I at lunch. I don't know what I would do without this amazing guy!