Many educators from North Carolina and beyond are just returning home to their communities this evening. For the past three days, we have convened our first face to face NCTIES event since prior to the pandemic. It has been just over two years since educators who believe in digital teaching and learning met and it was a joyful experience for sure.
This event, attended by over 2200 educators, met in downtown Raleigh and heard sessions from fellow classroom educators on a variety of EdTech topics and beyond. NCTIES, founded in 1971, is an organization that exists to serve our educators. NCTIES is regularly one of the largest education conferences in the state and was attended by educators from Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, and beyond. This year’s theme “Better Together” lived up to expectations. For many of us, this was the first time that we had seen, hugged, and greeted each other in two years. Needless to say, it was a joyous reunion. Even educators who did not know each other seemed to embrace strangers. \
For me, as a NCTIES board member, it was exhilarating working to set up the conference ensuring that rooms had the needed audiovisual equipment, making sure that our vendors knew where to set up their exhibits, and working all details to maximize the experience of our attendees. In the past, NCTIES has always had a positive and upbeat vibe. But this year, the energy was even more incredible. I saw educators supporting complete strangers as they presented. I was educators encouraging their colleagues to dream big. I heard educators sharing many stories of hope and frustration during the pandemic. But most importantly, I witnessed educators embracing and supporting each other. I spoke to many educators that I did not know during the conference and exchanged authentic and supportive words of support. I saw many educators courageously present for the first time ever. While some of these educators were a bit nerve out about presenting face to face, audience members helped them feel at ease while offering kind words. Many sessions involved educators sharing their innovative ideas and solutions on problems such as helping our students develop healthy relationships with technology, engagement practices, and how to deliver effective SEL lessons.
In the end, what I saw at NCTIES is what is best about educators and humanity in general. We want others to be successful. In doing so, we can offer our best thinking and support to empower and help each other grow. I saw attendees develop powerful connections though positive relationships. Collaboration was rampant both inside and outside of sessions. It was these acts of humanity that really capture the essence of NCTIES - educators uniting and growing together to be better equipped to serve our students and schools. Attendees left with powerful ideas that will transform their classrooms and schools. But more importantly, educators will remember how it felt to reconnect with others for the first time in two years and their amazing experience #bettertogether.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.