Life has been pretty stressful these days. My husband and I recently made the (long) move from Dallas, Texas to Charleston, South Carolina. While I am looking forward to the milder temperatures and closer proximity to a beach, the first few weeks of a move are always overwhelming.
Despite living out of boxes and surviving off of fast food, I knew something else was also contributing to my stress: my upcoming presentation at the Teach Your Heart Out Conference in Nashville.
I am an introvert. An introvert with anxiety, nonetheless. Aside from the rare occasion where I’ve had more than two glasses of wine, I am pretty reserved.
When Michelle Griffo from Apples and ABCs asked me to present at the TYHO conference, I was ecstatic! I impulsively said yes. And rightfully so. Have you SEEN the lineup?? Some of my education idols, like Gerry Brooks and The Tutu Teacher would be in attendance!! (These are just a tiny fraction of the awesome presenters at TYHO).
However, as the days got closer, the nerves set in. I was filled with self doubt and the thought of speaking in front of a crowd made me panic.
Plus, a sad dog who hates when the suitcases come out didn’t help either!
But when I arrived in Nashville and began meeting the presenters and attendees, my nerves let up and I began to feel more at home.
Everyone. Was. So. KIND!
My unbiased opinion of TYHO:
I was not asked to write this blog post. In fact, I did not think I would feel compelled to write such a post. But having experienced this conference once, I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you are looking to reignite you passion for teaching or learn new educational techniques, TYHO is the place for you.
Why does Teach Your Heart Out mean so much to me?
We Are Not Forgotten
Special Education teachers and classrooms are used to being left out. It’s disheartening and often infuriating.
Watching our little friends get left off of the classroom party roster. Again.
Sitting through hundreds of PD sessions that are 99% irrelevant to our population of students.
But not anymore. The Teach Your Heart Out Conference has included special education presenters (and will have SLPs at the Miami conference in October!)
Finally! A FUN conference with sessions designed JUST FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION!
Meeting special education teachers from across the country (and even a few from Canada!) was truly an amazing experience.
There’s just something about “finding your people.” As special education teachers we often feel isolated because our situations are so unique that general education teachers sometimes have a hard time relating.
These people KNOW what it’s like to come home and find a half-eaten skittle and a PECS “bathroom card” in their pocket.
They KNOW what it’s like to pull velcro-backed pennies off their undergarments after a load of laundry.
They KNOW what it’s like to chase a student around a classroom mid-diaper change, luring them back to the toilet with a regular, original Goldfish cracker (because God forbid it be “Flavor Blasted,” Goldfish Colors, or *gasp* …an off-brand, generic fish cracker).
I got to meet and make friends with people who “get it.” And that, my friends, is POWERFUL.
So if you’re considering attending a Teach Your Heart Out conference, I encourage you do everything you can to make it.
Start saving or invest in the monthly subscription box.
Ask your team leader if your school provides funds to attend PD sessions.
Some teachers even had the genius idea of starting a Donor’s Choose to fund their conference trip!
The Las Vegas session is June 29-30, and is a perfect way to start your school year off in the right mindset.
The Miami session is October 12-13th, and will have two of my favorite online SLPs presenting. (Felice from The Dabbling Speechie and Hallie from Speech Time Fun).
If you’re attending either of these conferences, or considering attending, please, please, please feel free to reach out to me, whether you have questions or just want to say hi. Meeting you guys is such a great honor.