Yes, I am late, real late to submit my reflections of this past summer’s NAESP conference in Nashville, Tennessee, but life catches up to you so better late than never.
This has been my 4th time attending the NAESP National Conference. The first one was in Baltimore, MD in 2004 and that is when I sat in this presenters session about What Great Principals Do Differently by a guy named Todd Whitaker. I was blown away. He was on to something and every principal in that room was like, wow. In 2010 I was in Houston, Texas in and out for the Houston conference and made sure to sit through Todd’s presentation again. Still a wow factor for me. Remember though, this is before social media became a big part to help me rejuvenate my career
It was in the spring of 2013 that I saw a tweet come through from Joe Mazza to call out for some help to bring a Social Media Lounge to the NAESP Baltimore Conference. My friend Tony Sinanis and I jumped on it and said yes, we would come down and help. Boy, did we work that conference! We held basic Twitter sessions, showed what GHO can do, and really, show principals and leaders how to break down the walls and what connective leadership looks like. It was an awesome experience and I learned a tremendous amount and connected with even more like minded principals. Little did I know going into this that I would be sitting with one of my idols, Todd Whitaker and his lovely wife Beth and creating a national PLN of educators and principals!
Joe Maxxa, Todd Whitaker, Kris Mitzner, Tony Sinanis, Beth Whitaker, Vicki Day
So, came this past year. I was hemming and hawing, wondering if I should go or not to the Nashville conference. What came across my desk was the NAESP mentor program flyer. I have always been curious about this program and decided that this would be something worthwhile for me to pursue. (You can see my post here about the certification program.) So, once again, I made the trek to join principals and leaders around the nation.
Once again, Joe Mazza put out a call to principals to help with the social media lounge. This time, we had more folks connected and more lead learners to present in the SM lounge. We worked via Google docs to stay connected, form a schedule for the three days as well as connect. We even had a new tool to use, Voxer, so we could hear our voices. You can access the NAESP Social Media Lounge schedule here. It has wonderful links for all to peruse!
I was the first to get to Nashville because I was being trained for the mentor program. The Gaylord Opryland is an enormous conference center linked to the Grand Ole Opry so there was much to do as well as being in Nashville, the music capital of the world. There was a huge youth ministry conference three days before the NAESP event, so lots of teenagers were running around the complex. Since the complex can hold many conferences, the placards started to change to NAESP. In front of the exhibit hall, our SM Lounge was listed:
Then friends started to come in! I found my #EdcampUNY and mentor Peter DeWitt who came in He was presenting on Flipped Leadership the first morning of the conference. Peter had a packet house and shared wonderful strategies to help leaders be better communicators for both staff, students and communities.
Then we had our opening NAESP keynote with Robert Flughum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.. Jenny Nauman and I were the first to present in the SM lounge on Twitter 101, but we wanted to see the keynote. Here we are not too far from the front in our selfie during the keynote!
Jenny was a principal from our 2013 SM Lounge that we mentored and showed how being connected opens a whole new world. Being an SM alumnus, I reached out to her so we could co-present and help others get on to Twitter. It may have been the most crowded session in the lounge because of the timing. No other sessions were happening, plus we all recruited people so we could teach them how to get on to Twitter and use it as a tool for professional development.
We had Tony Sinanis and others help folks open up accounts in Twitter to help them get connected to the world!!
One of our own SM Lounge buddies, Dan Butler, presented at the conference, so we all ran upstairs to support Dan!
Flat Vicki and Flat Christina did show up at the NAESP conference.
Oh wait, the real Vicki meets some folks who followed Flat Vicki at ISTE!
The day went by fast and we called it a night to get up and do it all over again. Here our leaders Joe Mazza helps folks get connected and shows the power of a PLN.
We take a break and run upstairs to support another buddy, Tony Sinanis, as he presents on Branding!
Hey, that’s Joe Sanfelippo joining us in Nashville! #GOCRICKETS!
We also had some fun!
Melinda had a great use of her phone to get ready to kiss a frog and turn it into a prince!
I really try to get these mannequins to start tweeting, but it really just did work. Come on you two, get tweeting would ya?
Is that Tony Sinanis all the way up there at the Opry?
Oh wait, that’s Melinda behind the band taking pictures of Tony at the Grand Ol Opry.
Erin Simpson, stop photobombing my selfies!
Oh, and Melinda, Tony and I help record an Apprenet introduction for the #PTCamp book study Beyond the Bake Sale.
And again, I meet my idols, Todd Whitaker and Beth Whitaker!
So, I am blessed to have been in the company of great educators during this week. If you haven’t attended a conference such as NAESP or NASSP, what are you waiting for? Start coming, see us face to face, and connect with us. It is how we become better leaders for our kids!
The NAESP 2014 Social Media Lounge Ambassadors
Join us in 2015 in Long Beach, CA!