Last week, I had the unique privilege of spending some quality time away from school with about half of my teaching staff. Back in November when I opened up the opportunity for teachers to attend the Google Summit in Napa, I was pleasantly surprised (purely for the financial hardship) when only a couple of people expressed interest in attending the summit. However, just as I had that thought, slowly but surely, my InBox started filling up with “I’d love to go!” “Sounds like a great experience!” “Can I bring a buddy?”
It didn’t take long for us to have a pretty solid group of teachers ready to write sub plans and skip town for a couple of days in order to learn new things for the benefit of students. Enter #TeamPenn – my Google Ninjas! Meet our team:
Back row: @msjanuleski (1st grade), @mrsbuschman (3rd grade), @mrssartori (kindergarten), @mcandersen88 (5th grade), @mrsnewman014 (5th grade)
The #gafesummit was incredible. For any of you who know me, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite things about these conference experiences is the networking aspect. There is something so unique, something that fills me so deeply, when I humbly stand in a room with likeminded people who challenge me, teach me, and pour their lives into changing the world, student by student. It’s my drug of choice. This #EduEnthusiasm is magical to me and it fuels me to do the hard work I encounter on a daily basis.
As a teacher, I never once attended a single conference. I don’t ever recall a time when my principals (and two of them I completely and totally adore!) offered to send me anywhere. Sadly, it never occurred to me that I could seek conferences out myself. I am certainly not complaining. As a teacher, I was extremely happy. I just didn’t know what I was missing. I can’t help but think about how much better of a teacher I could have been with the combined power of knowledge, risk, and networking that comes with the conference experience.
Now in my second year as principal, I am proud of the fact that I have been able to provide opportunities for so many of my teachers to attend conferences. Besides this recent #gafesummit, in the past nine months, #TeamPenn has been a mighty force at North Bay CUE’s Connect U in Napa, the GAFE Summit in the Silicon Valley, Fall CUE in American Canyon, and now we’re gearing up to send a couple of teachers to CUE Rock Star in February. My next goal is for 100% of my staff to attend the May 10th North Bay CUE event in Sonoma County. #wegotthis
I want my teachers to feel inspired. I want them to connect and learn with other educators who care deeply about students. I want each of my teachers to be challenged in ways that make them love their jobs more now that they ever have.
If you’re a teacher and you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a conference, start asking! Find something you’re interested in, look for a conference that matches your interest, and simply share your desires with your admin. If you’re an administrator, I challenge you to not wait until someone comes to ask you. Look around. Basque in the talent that is on your campus daily. Assemble your team. Do something radical that shows your staff you believe in them. I’d be willing to bet that your team is worth it. I know mine is.