3 Days of Learning
Know Your Impact is a 3-day conference my school district holds in June. Each day has a different focus, classroom culture, innovative teaching practices, and social/emotional well being. I was thoroughly exhausted after the conference this year! Last year I only informed the teachers about registration then helped set up since I was a member of the information committee and once it started I was able to attend the sessions. This year my new position was part of the team that was running the whole shebang.
Early in October, we started contacting vendors for the expo, (it's a good thing they were all still calling me after ISTE!) I was to find 4 commercial and 4 local vendors. Next came finding teachers to present. Some were highly encouraged to present since they participated in our Google training for the Level 1 Certified Educator. Others I had to convince that they had something awesome to share with other teachers. (I think they know how hard teachers are to teach...)
January through April had us updating the website and entering sessions into the Sched app. In February we found out that they were adding a Fine Arts component to the conference, inviting community members to attend, and having a Block Party downtown. This thing was getting big.
Early May had us finalizing the counts for t-shirts and food, we had reached over 600 people registered! Last year we had just over 300 attending. This was going to be HUGE! End of May into June had me hustling all over town asking for donations for door prizes, our community was awesome! Many local businesses donated gift cards and coupons for free services to the teachers.
June 5th (Day before the start of the conference)
Time to put the directional posters out, hang the door prize and GT update QR codes, add tablecloths on all the vendor tables along with adjusting who went where, and setting up the selfie booth. I had fun making the signs the teachers could hold up while taking selfies. I even convinced the local Rent-a-Center to set up two sofas and a bistro set for us to use! We were ready!
June 6th Day One
6:50 AM start time for me, last minute tasks. Teachers started arriving and headed to the keynote, Dr. Brown. This man was hilarious! He starts in costume dressed as an inner-city youth, baggy pants, huge shirt, and hair in braids, standing out all over his head. I missed the beginning of it but what I was able to see was thought provoking. He talks of students having two backpacks, then I get called out to put out a fire; people want paper copies of the sessions instead of using the app... UGH! We have over 240 sessions over the three days, that's a lot of paper. So we print the session titles with the times and rooms on them. People then complain that they are not accurate or there are no descriptions of the sessions... Look in the app people, you can even search by type and it's current!
Keynote ends and the next session starts, I have to help with the vendor sign-in sheets and take pictures of door prize winners to post on social media. I miss the first breakout session. Lunchtime and I'm taking pictures of our high school jazz band to tweet out and let people know there is entertainment on the front patio. I take a few minutes to record my son playing in the band. I then remember I have to eat too! I grab my box lunch and munch on my sandwich as I finish the door prize spreadsheet and upload the last of my students Genius Hour videos to YouTube so I can embed them in the website before we go live with it Friday during student spotlight.
Lunch ends and breakout session 2 begins, but I'm searching Twitter and Facebook looking to see if people are using the selfie booth since I'm stuck in a back room working still. Maybe I can catch the last session of the day... Nope. Time to set out the name tents for the vendors that will arrive in less than 2 hours. Last minute adjustments of vendors and we are ready for them to arrive.
From 4 to 6 pm the vendors are setting up their booths and I'm updating the slideshow that plays on all the TV's to show the next days schedule and presenters. Finally, it's 6:30 and I head home to sleep. Just kidding! I still have to read and think of a discussion post for class, it's Wednesday night... Maybe I can write it tomorrow during my downtime. Must Get Sleep!
June 7th, Day Two
Vendor day! I arrive at 6:45 AM since the vendors can arrive at 7 to finish setting up. Half of them have arrived when I get a text at 8:15 asking me to come to room 121, (That room number seems familiar...) OH NO! I forgot to put out the canceled sign for Dr. Ellis. He's sick and can't make it to train on Chromebooks! Red-faced, I apologize to the full room explaining that he won't be able to make it and they can go to another session or I can show them some tips and tricks that I learned from Matt Miller. Surprisingly they all stayed, so I did a quick session on the fly! They said it was great! I had them fill out a Google Form so I could send them resources, thankfully Dr. Ellis sent me what he was going to share so I can send it on to them! Session 4 completed (and attended) so I head back to the vendor expo to make sure my vendors have all arrived and see if there was anything else they needed.
It's also the technology day so I have a few friends presenting that asked me to be in the room when they present in case they can't answer the questions. Which means 9:45 finds me in the computer lab; I'm helping with a session on Smart Notebook and using the Smart Lab tools. I sneak out once they are set up and going smoothly. I forgot to give my vendors their lunch tickets! Thankfully my team had my back and already gave them to them! YAY TEAM!
Lunch Time! (Vendor Time) We allotted 11 AM - 1 PM for vendor time and lunch, I go around and get my swag; have some fan girl time visiting with Kasey Bell!!! I get her autograph and then it's 1 pm. Time for session 6, Again I get an SOS from a friend presenting, they are having a hard time getting their presentation to project and the clicker isn't working. I help them get situated but I don't get to attend because I have to round up the student ambassadors to help the vendors take all their stuff to their cars. Once they are packed and headed out, it's time to work on the GT website so that it's ready for the student spotlight sessions on Friday.
2:45 Session 7, I attend the last session to provide moral and technical support for my friends presenting on YouTube. (My brain is a little fried but I fight through.) I didn't get to attend any of Kasey Bell's sessions today. Maybe I can catch her Monday at the Region 10 Technology Conference, or there's always ISTE...
3:30 It's time for the teachers to head home or to the block party downtown. Not me though, I'm putting the finishing touches on the website, updating the slide presentation to show Friday's sessions, and setting up the Student Spotlight sessions. I am in the zone! I look up and I'm the last one in the building. It's 5:30 and everyone has gone home or downtown. I opt for home, I still have to watch the videos and post my discussion post for class... There's always Friday.
June 8th, Day Three (Hallelujah!)
No early setup today... but I'm still arriving by 7 AM. Today is the fun day, mental health day. There are many cool offerings: canning, welding, yoga, self-defense, couch to 5K, painting, tortilla making, and many other cool sessions. I head to a session on photography basics and it's a packed room. We bring in more chairs and wait, and wait... Oh no, not again. I didn't arrange for this presenter but I feel guilty anyway. Sorry folks, this session has been canceled but Mr. Pate (my boss) and another attendee knows photography! They step up and do a quick mini session but I get an SOS call from my other principal needing help. Maybe I can attend an afternoon session...
I get the TV needed to set up the slide deck for my other elementary school and then my students start arriving for the student spotlight sessions. I get out the dash robot, iPads, and laptops for their demonstrations. I have a kindergartner coding Dash to move along a taped course, then the meter stick he's using gives him a splinter and he's in tears. I find the nurse presenting 3 tables down to get him taken care of and crisis averted, but he's done coding for the day. It's only 11 am and we still have another hour to go.
Noon. Parents arrive to pick up their kids but they don't leave, they are attending the conference too. I clean up the tech, trying to escape, hoping to make it to the special welding session the let me attend. I don't make it. We are still cleaning up the expo area and the session started 15 minutes ago. Shoot! Time to take down the door prize and GT update QR codes. I find some student helpers and send them all over the building to take down the signs.
2:45 PM Final session of the conference so I sneak into the auditorium to listen to Layne Pethick talk about movement and learning. He's really engaging and I wish I could have attended all of his sessions. 3:15 and I get the call from my team to finish cleaning up the conference, all signs, the selfie booth, and tables. It's been a LONG week. My son comes at 4:30 and picks me up to go home. Once home I shower and remember to do my discussion post. I can't think enough to type so I do a video post instead. I thought I was holding the camera in landscape... Nope, it's in portrait but I'm in landscape and it's 11 minutes long. I re-shoot the video with more organized thoughts this time. Seven minutes long, that will do! I go to upload it, and my internet is S L O W but I'm exhausted. I go to bed instead, I can post it in the morning.
I can't wait to do it all over again next year!