Aldine, Texas is a town just north of Houston with a population of approximately 16,000 people; however, to be such a small town (relatively speaking), they sure put on a big conference. This past weekend (October 22, 2016), I had the opportunity to attend TCCA (the Technology and Curriculum Conference of Aldine) 2016. This annual education technology conference is free not only to the educators of the Aldine Independent School District but educators from all over.
The reason I love Twitter is because of the connections I make with other educators. One of my followers posted a tweet using the TCCA conference hashtag (#TCCA16), and that’s how I discovered the TCCA EdChat (#TCCAchat). After I participated in this Twitter chat, I decided I would register and make the four hour drive from Dallas.
Who knew such a small town could put on such a big conference? I’ve had the privilege of attending the largest education technology conference in Texas (TCEA) and one of the largest education technology conferences in the world (ISTE) and can attest to the amazing job Aldine did.
The first hook that really caught my attention was this year’s keynote speaker, Angela Maiers (http://www.angelamaiers.com). I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her speak several times, so I knew attendees would be in for a treat. Angela’s aura and inspiring words never fail to uplift a crowd. Her You Matter Movement (www.choose2matter.org) puts the spotlight back on the human connection and the importance of self-worth and value. Needless to say, she did not disappoint, as an educational leader, she reminded me that it’s not technology that changes the world, but PEOPLE (EDUCATORS) and they do it by realizing that they matter and that those around them matter too.
Of course, TCCA 2016 was held in the Aldine Independent School District hosted by the beautiful Benjamin O. Davis High School, a 9-12 campus established in 2012, but with over 3,000 attendees it was a bit much for their parking lots to handle. In anticipation, they had plenty of helpers (and local law enforcement) directing traffic and managing the influx of cars. Once inside Davis High, it mirrored many of the larger conferences I’ve attended: A check-in area for signing in, plenty of signage decked out with pictures of legos paying homage to this year’s theme (Building the Tech Future), and a small exposition hall set up with vendors.
There were also plenty of sessions to choose from with a wide range of focuses from hardware to software, technology to curriculum, and everything in between. Furthermore, offering snacks, a free lunch, and $15,000 in door prizes didn’t hurt either. I attended sessions about “Liberating Genius,” engaging students, instructional coaching through differentiation, organizing Google Drive, and a mini-unconference session called an “unsession.”
The reasons I love conferences are the abilities to learn, grow, and connect with other educators and TCCA did not disappoint. I learned so much in one day on a Saturday (and for free), and I can take my new knowledge back to my campus and district. I had an opportunity to grow through discussions, hands-on learning, and inspirational presentations. And best of all I was able to connect with old friends, make new friends, and connect with friends face-to-face who I only knew through the digital realm.