I attended the 2022 TCEA Convention in Dallas, Texas, this past week and had the time of my life. Put me in a room with other educators who are as passionate about pedagogy, educational technologies, and students, and I’m in my happy place. Add to that an exhibitor’s hall full of a plethora of Edtech companies from all over the nation and world, and I’m walking on clouds. Seeing my friends from social media platforms in person, face to face again, was the icing on the cake. I met some friends for the first time in real life, and with others enjoyed a happy reunion. My bucket was brimming over by the end of the week.
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center was spacious and a great place for us to gather. The lines for food were admittedly long, the water coolers spaced around the meeting halls and rooms were temperamental, and some of the sessions were filled to the brim and sometimes volunteers had to turn away latecomers to obey the fire codes, but it was all part of this fabulous experience we call TCEA. The volunteers were so helpful and kind, the presenters of the sessions I attended were full of enthusiasm and knowledge, and we might have walked more than 5 miles a day to get from session to session, lunch, back to the hotel room, then back for later sessions.
I enjoyed watching friends present, (Rachelle Dene Poth, Jaime Donally, Vernon Wright, Amy Storer, Tisha Poncio, Deb Zeman, Alice Keeler, Melody McCallister, Jorge Valenzuela, Dyann Wilson, Karina Q), meeting new friends and new-to-me (had heard of but not really explored yet) Edtech companies that can help my students, (thank you Marcus Stein & Kami, Melody McCallister & Spaces!), and doing an interview for one of my fave companies, Wakelet. I met Eda Gimenez from another company favorite, Buncee, and two representatives from Capstone as well.
I returned home Thursday night after my presentation that morning, and having been away from my students all week, returned to school on Friday as well. Three students actually clapped as they saw me walking down the hall to our room. One senior asked me where I had been, and I explained a bit that I was at a conference learning and presenting so I could help more students learn. He asked if I had to go, and I replied that no, I wanted to go. He then said something that hit me hard.
I know educators have had a rough couple of years. This year has seemed tougher than last year, though I expected it to be better. It’s not. I do, however, know that passion for teaching is not dead, as evidenced by the TCEA conference and other conferences that are ongoing. Teachers are exhausted and at times dispirited. We are told to practice self-care and ‘oh by the way do ten times more work than usual.’ We are told that things are being removed from our plates only to discover that the plates have been switched out to platters. Yet we soldier on each day. My hat is off to all educators out there across the world who remain flexible to all of the changes around them and keep the learning and love for students flowing daily. You are appreciated. You are valued. Happy Valentine’s Day from this educator to all of you.