Saturday, April 1, 2017

2017 Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat -- Daytime Event Highlights!

When was the last time someone rolled out the RED CARPET for YOU as a teacher? 

Well, that’s exactly what we did for all of the attending teachers at the
2017 Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat!

We LOVE to celebrate teachers (and all school staff) for the celebrities they are!  We know how hard you work all year round, and you deserve to be spoiled and admired!  Wanna take a peek at just how we rolled out the red carpet this year?

Well, read on, my teacher friends!

The weekend began as it does every year for those of us on the planning team -
with lots of Friday prep! 

We had a HUGE increase in attendance this year, so this year that meant filling 560 of these awesome bags from Scholastic Reading Club with all kinds of goodies from our fabulous sponsors! 
Thank you to our AMAZING teacher “swag bag” sponsors! Seriously, I cannot say enough wonderful things about these companies!  Each of them truly, truly love educators and were so excited to help us “give back” to the educators in attendance!

We were able to take a quick break Friday evening for dinner under the dome at the amazing West Baden Springs hotel before getting back to work setting everything up for Saturday morning!  (It’s a tradition to meet in the dome on Friday night to meet new friends and visit old ones!)

On Saturday morning, we were back at it early for attendee check-in!  

We also had some awesome sponsors greeting attendees and treating them to some of their products!

Before we knew it, it was time to start the day! 

When the doors opened, attendees grabbed their seats and began checking out all of the amazing sponsor donated raffle items.  That’s right!  There were even MORE amazing give-aways!  Yep!  Over 100 amazing give-aways, totaling over $50,000 in teacher swag and prizes!  (We weren’t kidding when we said we're spoiling teachers!)

We began the daytime event with a welcome message…from me!  It was so humbling to look out at a room full of over 550 teachers who all shared the common bonds of loving children, wanting to better ourselves as teachers, and also desiring to move education forward in positive ways! #teacherlove

It was important to me to kick this event off by sharing the history of the event and how our mission has always been to bring like-minded, passionate educators together and to celebrate them for all the hard work they do for kids all year long!

Next up was everyone's favorite principal, Mr. Gerry (pronounced with a hard G) Brooks. He gave a fantastic keynote about setting goals for ourselves, our students and our families that left everyone laughing and feeling inspired!

After the keynote, we all went to our designated buffet lines for a yummy lunch.

 (You can tell it’s a teacher event when there is a specific plan for how to line everyone up to keep things organized and efficient! LOL)



After lunch, we held our annual “Teacher Tool Swap” activity.  This is a yearly fave!
We played a "Left, Right" game which re-told the history of the Spring Teacher Blogger Retreat. When the game was over, every teacher ended up with a gift bag filled with someone else’s favorite teacher “tool!”  The gift “givers” shared why the tools they gave are the best, in their opinion.  I LOVE seeing what the yearly teacher tool “trends” are!  So. Much. Fun.

We kicked off the professional development portion of the day with an amazing whole-group session presented by Hope and Wade King, the dynamic husband-wife teacher team who teach at the world-renowned Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hope is also the author of the popular educational blog, Elementary Shenanigans, and the Kings are co-founders of the amazing “Get Your Teach On” Conference,” a one-of-a-kind teacher conference focused on student engagement and best practices in the classroom.

Hope and Wade delivered a phenomenal presentation to our group on the power of student engagement. They demonstrated ways we can "set the stage to engage" our kids every day to increase their achievement and help them WANT to come to school instead of just showing up because they HAVE to!  You could FEEL the energy in the room as we rocked out our own learning lessons to Wade’s electric guitar! Every person in the room was completely engaged and inspired…and folks, there were 560 of us!!! That is saying something!  Hope and Wade King were beyond amazing! 

From there, we split up to attend three rounds of mini-sessions. Sarah Cooper (A Rocky Top Teacher Blog) and Tiffany Copple (2TechieTeachers Blog) were the mastermind planners of the professional development sessions. They did an amazing job! 

 We had some of the best teachers and presenters in the country hosting these sessions! Take a peek at just a few…
 DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten presented on writing in the classroom. 

 Tiffani Mugurussa from Time 4 Kindergarten shared tips on how to get started with selling on Teachers Pay Teachers

 Katie Mense from Little Kinder Warriors taught attendees how to use PowerPoint to create classroom resources. 

 Christina from Miss DeCarbo led a session on making comprehension more concrete for students. 

 Haley O'Connor from Teaching With Haley shared strategies for helping students improve their self-control. 

 Amanda Pauley from Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten gave attendees some strategies for classroom management.

  Marissa Zimmer from First Grade Stars shared quick and easy ways to integrate STEM into teachers' daily curriculum.

Heidi Neels from Flipping For First showed attendees everything SeeSaw has to offer them.

Maja Austin from Kooky Kinders taught attendees about the power of Donor's Choose to fund their classroom needs.

Brittany Banister from Mrs. Banister's Kindergarten Kids explained how ESGI Software can save teachers time when assessing. 

 Chris Pombonyo from Live in the Classroom led a huge session on effective digital tools to use in the classroom. 
Crystal Oswald from The Balanced Teacher  showed attendees how she creates engaging songs for her classes. 

We wrapped up the PD portion of the day with a quick panel session featuring Principal Gerry, Hope and Wade King, DeeDee Wills, and Chris Pombonyo. This allowed attendees to ask these experts anything! 

Finally, we ended the daytime event by announcing the prize winners of our fabulous sponsor give-aways!

A huge THANK YOU to all of these amazing sponsors:

Check out all of these happy teacher faces!! 

Did you miss out on the fun this year? No worries! You can enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win some teacher swag, too!!


Whew!  That was quite a post!  And believe it or not…that was just HALF of our amazing retreat!  Stay tuned for the next post about our UNBELIVABLE Red Carpet Event!

Check back soon for a recap of the epic red carpet evening event sponsored by ESGI, GoNoodle, and Oriental Trading!


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  2. The place itself looks great with good pub area, and a much larger upstairs beer hall. Nice decor at event space Chicago with brick walls, wooden bench seating, and chalkboard beer lists showing off the day's selections.