This year marked the 42nd year of the TCEA (Texas Computer Educators Association) Convention and Exposition.
There were 12 thought leaders for this year’s conference including Jennifer Gonzalez speaking about cultivating a healthy classroom climate.
Attendees had opportunities to learn about emerging technologies and explore cutting-edge classroom accessories.
This year marked the 42nd year of the TCEA (Texas Computer Educators Association) Convention and Exposition and my third time presenting at this event. It was held in Dallas at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and offered an in-person event with online options. TCEA is one of my favorite conferences to attend as it brings thousands of educators together; to network, to explore new ideas, and with an added bonus being the great weather.
What makes TCEA different?
TCEA creates a welcoming space for attendees. From the moment you enter the conference center, there are volunteers ready to assist you. Even if you attend the conference alone, it doesn’t take long to make some new connections. We’re all in it for the same reason: to do what is best for kids. TCEA provides a space for educators to gather to share innovative ideas and best practices for schools.
Meaghan Rhame, Director of Conferences and Events for TCEA, and the professional development committee undertake a tremendous effort to design an authentic and personalized learning opportunity for educators each year. One of my favorite features is that TCEA provides guidance for attendees who may be unsure of where exactly to start when planning their conference schedule. There are 12 focus areas and topics to explore. A committee of educators from different roles and experiences reviews the sessions and create mock schedules. The mock schedules make it easier to navigate the hundreds of sessions and different formats available. It instead focuses on specific roles or topics that enable attendees to create a custom experience and are prepared for curriculum directors, leaders, librarians, educators, CTOs and teachers. It’s a great starting point, especially for those who are attending for the first time.
The full conference or on-demand
This year the event offered a mix of in-person and online packages. Attendees could choose to attend the full conference, for the exhibit hall only, or select one of two online session packages. The online packages focused on “Bridging the learning gap” and on social-emotional learning (SEL).
There were 12 thought leaders for this year’s conference including Jennifer Gonzalez speaking about cultivating a healthy classroom climate. Other leading discussions included topics on inclusive classroom environments, developing emotional intelligence skills, ideas for augmented and virtual reality and gamification, and creating more opportunities to immerse students in learning.
In the opening keynote, filmmaker and storyteller, Brett Culp, spoke about hope as the foundation of action. He said, “It’s that the steps that we take are built on the belief that our actions are going to make a difference.” Culp inspired with his meaning of leadership: ”Real leadership is inviting people on a mission to create something extraordinary together.”
The closing keynote speaker, Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, joined in virtually and spoke about diversity and inclusion. She offered attendees inspiration and words to reflect on: “Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being invited to dance.”
The exhibit hall
Attendees had opportunities to learn about emerging technologies and explore cutting-edge classroom accessories in the exhibit hall, specifically, the Esports Arena. Students and educators were available to answer questions and information on how to bring esports into schools.
Other fun activities included Alice Keeler’s Schoolytics booth and live stream chat, the Nearpod booth and their Flocabulary songs, and Invizbl, who offered attendees snacks and t-shirts while waiting for their complete phone sanitization. Spaces EDU had amazing cupcakes for attendees who stopped by to learn about SEL and digital portfolios.
Kai’s Clan had a demo of its new robot “Kaibot”, showing attendees how to bring coding through augmented reality into the classroom. There were STEM kits, robots, virtual reality headsets and so much to explore.
Another fun area was the Logitech booth where attendees could have a digital caricature created for them. And as always, there was no shortage of swag for attendees, ranging from pens, notepads, Yeti mugs to hand sanitizer and t-shirts.
The live streaming
There were several live-streamed sessions each day. I was honored to have one of my sessions, “Chart A New Course: Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World,” focused on SEL chosen. Being able to present to people in person as well as interact with those viewing the live stream made it a more interactive experience.
Why attend conferences?
The variety of sessions and scheduling each year enable attendees to customize their TCEA experience and select focus areas and sessions that resonate the most. I would recommend educators add TCEA to the list of must-attend events. I heard from several attendees how refreshing it was to be at TCEA and to be able to learn together. It’s all about the relationships and the connections that we make and when we join together to share our learning, we continue to improve ourselves for our students.
Next year’s conference will be held Jan. 30 through Feb. 3, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas.