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The Voices of TCEA

by Guest Blogger

I have attended TCEA for the past few years, and it’s always a time of learning, reflection, and growth. How exciting it is when educators converge on the great city of Austin to learn from each other, network, collaborate across districts, and get to eat lunch at a restaurant. We’re educators…this little thing is a huge perk.

When TCEA asked me to guest blog, I decided I would let the day determine what my message would be. It quickly became clear that the voices of TCEA impact me the most at this conference each year. From the kind lady at registration to the jolly security guard, from the fourth grade teacher I met walking from the parking garage, to the people I connected with on Twitter during my session…it is these voices that speak loud and strong. They speak words of kindness, hope, excitement, and reflection…all things I crave in my role as an instructional coach and in my life as a human. Allow me to share some of these voices with you.

Josh Strickland

I had the honor of meeting Josh Strickland on the way to registration. Josh is a fourth grade teacher from Anna ISD and is interested in blogging and coding. We got to visit briefly and later swapped URLs during separate sessions. I love when I can magnify my learning at conferences by looking through the presentation materials and tweets of the other educators around me. It definitely provides a broader learning experience and allows me to gain more than I would without a personal learning network. Connect with Josh on Twitter and let’s help get him motivated to blog!

Angel Bradford

The next voice I got to hear was that of Angel Bradford. Angel presented on Writing Workshop/Technology Mashup. As the co-director of the Central Texas Writing Project, I am always looking for ways to connect writing teachers with relevant, engaging resources, and this session had both! One of the fun things she talked about was peer editing. In my work with teachers, I have found that peer revising and editing always seem to be daunting to teachers since there are so many factors involved. This peer editing video was a fun way to introduce some non-examples of strong peer editors.

Jessica Torres

Mandy Taylor

For lunch, I had the opportunity to hear the voice of Jessica Torres. Jessica is an assistant principal in Waco ISD and she co-presented on a panel with me last year on personalized professional development. Jessica and I have only met in person twice, last year at TCEA and for lunch today right before our session. We visited about building teacher capacity, struggles and triumphs in our current positions, and how the connections we have forged through social media have impacted the work we do and our respective careers. She is a force to be reckoned with and I am glad she is in my corner.

Caleb Hudgens

Following lunch, we headed to Hilton Salon G (because that sounds very glamorous) for our #PersonalizedPD Game of Stories session with Caleb Hudgens. I worked with Caleb for several years before he left to be the Instructional Technology Coordinator at Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD. Caleb remains a great friend and my go-to for ideas on student publication, student voice, and all things Adobe Spark!

During this session, we facilitated a brief discussion of the power of #PersonalizedPD for educators. This idea is built on the concept that teachers are the best PD for each other, and providing opportunities for choice and voice in the professional development process always yields the greatest results with the most opportunity for ongoing growth. We then put the card game, Game of Stories, in the hands of the session participants where it really belongs. Tables quickly began using their deck of cards to share stories and swap ideas from their own experiences and their own classrooms. Learning was shared on a collaborative Google Doc and each participant left with the link that houses new Twitter connections, a treasure trove of extensions and tech tools, as well as ideas that I can’t wait to explore later!

I am thrilled I get to spend a few more days in Austin connecting and learning with a bright group of brave educators who are here to learn more about truly transforming the future through innovative learning opportunities. We need more educators willing to listen to their own voice and stand up for kids! I would love to connect with you if you’re here for the week or on Twitter if I don’t get the opportunity to meet you face to face.

Mandy Taylor is an instructional coach at Hays CISD and regularly blogs here. You can also reach her on Twitter.


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