5 "A-HA" Moments From #TpTFlock17 - a TeacherPayTeachers Conference

Friday, April 14, 2017 / 1 comment
#TpTFlock17 Let's Rock the Flock
I'm there in the middle in green. No, not that one, the other one. On the right. 
MY right...oh never mind, just trust me, I'm in there.

A week ago, I was preparing to spend an entire day collaborating with a fairly sizable group of intensely motivated, bright, and dedicated individuals (see picture above). As an admitted Socially Outgoing Introvert this was both exciting and terrifying. 

The fact that this was my THIRD year attending "the Flock," as it has affectionately been nicknamed, definitely helped push my emotions more towards excitement. A few friends I've grown close with over the past year being present definitely helped as well. By the time I sat down with my breakfast I knew it was going to be a fantastic day...and I wasn't wrong. (And not just because of the Donut Board...)

Yeah, you heard me right - A DONUT BOARD. A gigantic bulletin board...of donuts. 
Bet you wish you had gone now too, don't you?

Fabulous snacks aside...here are my 5 "A-HA" Moments from this year's TpT Flock:

1. We seriously underestimate teachers
There were almost 200 teacher-sellers from 28 states and 4 Canadian provinces at the Flock. Many of them, like me, are full-time teachers who were there to learn more about how to grow and improve their side-businesses. So after designing lessons for their students, grading papers, responding to parents, attending faculty meetings and professional development they are blogging, vlogging, creating resources, and marketing their brands. The commitment is simply staggering.

Many others present had stopped teaching full-time in order to create resources full-time. What I found so inspiring about them is that their commitment to creating amazing resources for students hadn't waned at all. At one point, the amazing keynote speaker, Jenny Knappenberger of Art with Jenny K stated something that definitely set off my mental "A-HA!":

We are teachers to the teachers...Their students are OUR students.

We live in a time when all too frequently, a teacher who sells resources they created or who asks for a higher salary is told that they "aren't really in it for the children." And sitting in that room...I felt like I had almost 200 examples of just how wrong that mindset truly is. Every person in that room truly feels a sense of responsibility toward every student who will use one of their resources.

2. A little SWAG goes a long way!
Ok, I went a little serious with my first "A-Ha," so I'm reining it in a bit on this one. Truly, the freebies and gifts the TpTFlock team put together for attendees was amazing. My "A-Ha" moment here was that treating people like you value them and are happy that they are there (or buying your resource, or sitting in your classroom) can really make a huge difference.

Create • Hustle  Repeat

3. We all matter
I have to give huge props to Jenny K. for this "A-Ha." She designed, planned, and implemented the most amazing project I've ever been a part of in any teacher or teacher-seller event I've ever attended...and the accompanying message was one I'm going to bring back to my classroom next year. 

When we arrived at the conference we all received a tiny card with a weird pattern on it and specific instructions on how to color it. We were also instructed to write the name of our TpT store somewhere on the card. Knowing that Jenny K. is famous for this sort of art, I should have suspected...but I must have been distracted (I blame the donut wall). Later in the day...she revealed what we all had been creating:
Our dream is to make the expertise and wisdom of all the teachers in the world 
available to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

As we all marveled at the collaboration mural we had been a small part of, Jenny explained that she loved creating this sort of art because it demonstrated the true importance and magic of each of us, of the individual. If we had removed any piece of the mural, it would have been incomplete. That missing piece would stand out, be noticeable...it would be missed. And people are like that too. I can't WAIT to begin my next school year with that message for students in my classes!

I wasn't the only one. Jenny made Amy, our Director of Seller Happiness cry too!

4. When you're trying to do something extraordinary...it helps to have an amazing team to work with
I have no idea if there were any flaws or mistakes during this year's TpT Flock. I know that at least one person scheduled to speak couldn't make it due to weather. But aside from that, the entire event seemed seamless from my perspective. And my "A-Ha" here was that when you have a group of brilliant, talented, dedicated friends all working together...you can accomplish great things. I want to give a huge shout-out to the TpT Flock Planning Team. They are amazing. THANK YOU!

A whole group of ladies I'd love to be just like when I grow up! 

5. You do you
I feel like it might have "fit better" if I ended with my thank you in #4, but since this was my biggest takeaway from TpT Flock 17, I'm going to steal the last spot. As I sat in these wonderful, informative sessions, collaborated with wildly talented entrepreneurs, and met teacher-sellers who I will freely admit are my "teacher-seller crushes," I realized that for the first time, I felt at ease. Motivated. Excited. Inspired. YES! But not anxious. Not threatened. Not unworthy. And I realized that the reason for this was that I have decided to do what I want to do with my blog, my TpT store, my brand - and to stop worrying about whether or not I was doing it better or worse than anyone else.

That's not to say that we shouldn't constantly be looking for ways to improve; (Frankly, I've been working on my blog and my business during almost every non-teaching moment I've had since leaving the Flock) it means that we should focus on what makes us feel good about what we are doing, rather than trying to follow someone else's journey.

And that's why I hope my biggest "A-HA" will be something you can takeaway too. You have the ability to be awesome at what you do. So do it. Seek the advice and wisdom of others. Definitely seek the camaraderie and friendships that come with these opportunities. But when you're back home and things are quiet, look over all the information...and you do you.

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