Updated: Apr 9, 2019
Hopefully that title got your attention. Now I must tell you something, this past month has been a whirlwind of conferences and workshops. But, never have I ever co-planned a 2-day, one-night conference designed just for preservice teachers! What an experience! Recently, I co-planned an event with 3 practicing educators and 2 preservice teachers, it was called, ECET2 Next Gen. ECET stands for Elevating and Celebrating excellence in teaching and teachers, hence the T2. Next Gen focused on the next generation of educators, bringing them up, honoring them and learning with them. ECET2 is a program that is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate’s foundation, more on that later. Let’s dive in!
Friends, you know I’ve co-planned edcamps before and workshops, but never a conference! This required us to work together to find a place to host the conference, we chose a hotel with several conference rooms, a large banquet room, and awesome digs. But first we chose a date and time for the event. We decided to start on Friday night and end on Saturday afternoon.
On Friday we celebrated educators and Saturday we got our learning on!
After we had the details down, it was time to get the nominations to roll in. Now, remember I told you we had funding from Bill and Melinda Gates? Well, this is where the nomination piece comes in. ECET 2 is a funded program. It is all about celebrating excellence in educators. I was the lead person on obtaining nominations. Since we wanted to target preservice teachers in North Western PA, I reached out to the chairs and deans of about 30 different education departments in the area. Out of the 60 contacts, we ended up having 18 different colleges and universities represented at ECET2. The chairs and deans nominated preservice teachers in their program and answered a quick survey about why the students was nominated. After a preservice teacher was nominated s/he was sent the link to attend and register for ECET 2. All said and down we had over 90 preservice teachers from around our region attend the conference. It was amazing to hear everyone’s teaching story and learn about what gets them pumped to teach.
We celebrated the attendees with a dinner, dance, and casino themed event where they could win tickets to submit for raffle prizes. We started the night off with a connecting activity where attendees identified ideas that they were passionate about related to education and personal life. Then attendees were encouraged to make new connections and network with one another. After we made new connections, we shared a meal together and of course played a round of Kahoot during dessert. After a competitive game based on 90’s trivia, attendees participated in casino themed minute to win it games, dance with great music, and of course a photo booth. After our much-needed celebration the next day followed up with learning and leading.
We wanted to make sure our attendees felt honored and celebrated, and we did just that!
Learning and sessions
We kicked off Saturday morning with a keynote panel over breakfast. Our participants learned from 3 educators, one preservice teacher and two veteran educators. The panel was asked several questions in which they all answers then opened it up to Q&A from the audience. This panel discussion also encouraged audience participation and voice during the talk. It was great to get different perspectives and ideas.
An interesting piece about the panel was that we can all agree that no matter how long you are in teaching you still get excited for those light bulb moments.
The sessions were designed with preservice teachers in mind focusing on topics that they wanted to learn more about. We were blessed to have educators of excellence join us, like Joe Harmon, Kristen Nan, and Jacie Maslyk. We even had powerful sessions presented by preservice teachers. One such session was presented by a group of preservice teachers from Edinboro University.
Our sessions ranged from topics related to STEM to creating a culture for learning, educational technology for students with special needs to virtual reality. We ran five sessions simultaneously with a small break in between and then another breakout session with five different simultaneous sessions.
Participants left ECET 2 Next Gen feeling energized, honored, and elevated in their teaching and learning. It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to plan another conference soon!
So, now what?
Friends, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone.
Try something new and take a risk – you never know what will come of it.
How are elevating and celebrating your career in teaching?
How are you owning your professional development?
Comment below with your feedback and share with a friend!
You have the EduMagic in YOU!