After an early morning shower and a couple of cups of strong Hampton Inn coffee, I revisited my TCEA schedule and reviewed my highlighted sessions for my personalized plan for learning. Since I wasn't presenting anything today, the whole day was just for me to learn new things- for myself, my team, and my teachers. I put on jeans and packed my snack lunch to give myself the full day of time slots with no need to stop for a lunch. I checked in with my team on my way to the convention center to see what everyone was planning to see and do today. The sunrise on the downtown Austin buildings and the beautiful weather reinforced my good mood as I walked the short block to start my day of learning and connecting.
My first session of the day was a panel about personalized PD with a handful of my favorite Twitter follows discussing their philosophies and examples of personalized PD for teachers (and themselves.) This was my first panel to attend, and I really appreciated the insights and discussions that I got to observe and interact with through a Today's Meet back channel. It was very "big picture" and inspirational, which was a nice change from the other more practical sessions I have been attending so far. The discussions were so good that I stayed until the end, and then I couldn't find a session that wasn't full.
I tried four rooms (getting my steps in), and then I decided that the time slot was "a wash" and that I had time to go spend some quality time in the exhibit hall. Though I don't usually schedule a chunk of time for this, I found that an hour talking with the reps and vendors of the products that my district uses (and that I as a digital learning specialist support) was actually an excellent use of my time. Meeting my Canvas guy face-to-face was good, and it scored me a fun Rubik's cube for the 14-year-old son back home. I also got to talk with a few other reps who were willing to discuss possible pilots in the near future. These discussions also led to invites to happy hours around the area, which is still an unexpected perk for me.
I met up with my team at the YOUniverse watching Alice Keeler, and I spotted a principal from my district and went over to check in with him. The afternoon was filled with a couple of other sessions, both of them second choices due to full sessions. On my way to my next session, I had an impromptu conference debrief with TCEA's Miguel Guhlin. As I waited in the hall in line for a session, I checked in with my teen daughter and got a quick tutorial via text on how to apply the TCEA Snapchat filter. (She works publicity for her high school Theatre department and she recently helped get a filter designed and approved for the week run of the big musical.) My TCEA day wrapped with a tool-centered (but awesomely useful) Google Add-ons session before I headed back to the hotel to put finishing touches on my presentation for tomorrow and to catch the Hampton happy hour with my team.
So, though my day didn't go exactly as I had carefully planned ahead of time, I had a rewarding day of learning and networking. I have new tools, new ideas, and new energy to take back to my district, and that is what I love about attending TCEA.