A year ago, I was packing for my first TCEA Convention, excited and focused on the deluge of learning that was coming my way. Now, I am preparing to present two sessions and reflecting on the past year in my new career as a digital learning specialist and blended learning crusader (aka. coach). Preparing for TCEA this year has been different because I am presenting, but I still have carefully scoured the presenter lists and cross-referenced the ones from my extended Twitter PLN to develop a 3 or 4 tiered option list for most session times. Last year, my focus was on taking in as much information as possible and the session titles were my focus. This year, I started with the presenters first and looked over the sessions for those folks that I follow on Twitter and online through blogs. I also tagged some sessions from my TCEA friends (Reimers, Guhlin, and Benner), so I can touch-base with them briefly during my time in Austin. My team has set up the district GroupMe to keep in contact via texts during our week, as well as a collaborative shared Slides for session epiphanies. The fun after-hours events/invites are also organized on a shared calendar, so we all can get in some team bonding during our TCEA week.
The weather in Austin is predicted to be uncharacteristically warm next week which will influence my last minute suitcase stuffing tomorrow. My supportive family has also agreed to "preview" and give feedback on my sessions in the morning before I leave, and if teenagers are anything, they are brutally honest. My drama daughter will critique my appearance and speaking skills, while my tech-savvy son will dissect the visual presentation and tech elements. I definitely won't be lacking for advice as I head down to Austin for an information-packed, networking-rich week at TCEA. And, technology will also help me stay connected to my sweet teens via nightly Facetime sessions, Twitter DMs, Snapchat stories, and our family text chat. So, though it takes a great deal of preparation for me to leave my family for a week, the experiences and learning that await me make this convention an eagerly anticipated week of personalized professional development.