About 5 months ago I embarked on the journey of becoming a teacher blogger with hopes of learning the ropes with selling on Teachers Pay Teachers and making a name for myself in the world of education! I knew that attending the first annual TPT conference would be a great opportunity for me to get insight on what it takes to build your brand, but what I didn’t know is that I was about to embark on an amazing opportunity to connect with great teachers from across the country. This includes the same ones that I had been Internet stalking or following for months. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to launch my blog at the TPT conference in Vegas! So please allow me to officially launch this blog and welcome you to Great Minds Teach Alike!
In this post I will be giving you a detailed review of my adventures experiences at the TPT conference. Now we all know you can’t launch a blog without a great GIVEAWAY. So stick around for the goodies at the end of this post!!!
The conference was hosted at the fabulous Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The day began with registration and a kickoff to a full day of breakout sessions. The kick off started early with a light breakfast. It began with a very heartfelt speech from Paul Edelman the founder of Teachers Pay Teachers. He started with giving a little history about himself and how he began TPT. The room of over 600 educators was captivated by his words. He spoke from such a genuine and sincere place. His compassion for TPT and everyone involved in it was truly felt. Either that or we were all mesmerized by his discernible good looks! LOL (I couldn’t help it, check him out in the pick below) He referenced technology being a super power and how TPT is connecting all of us as our super power!
Then the incredible Deanna Jump came up to speak. She is probably the most famous seller on TPT because she is the first TPT millionaire! That’s right, she earned 3.2 million dollars on average and she sells her products at about 8$ each. So not only is she a millionaire but she is also the most charming, humble, and witty little woman you could ever meet! Did I mention she’s gorgeous too? She is one of those women you want to hate but you can’t. LOL She also gave a very warm and encouraging speech. One of the parts that stuck out to me most was when she shared her prayer during her time of struggle (before the millions) “Lord, if you show me the way I will do the work,” She shared her personal story and how she had to step out of her comfort zone because success doesn’t come to you, you have to go get it!
Next up was the CEO of TPT, John Yoo! He kicked his speech off with a selfie with the crowd of TPT teachers. He was also very funny and charismatic. He mostly spoke about TPT on a business level. He explained the importance of the staff and all there hard work and he also shared some pretty awesome statistics with us as well. For example, did you know that there are 4 million users registered on TPT, and that 22.64 million products sold? And get this the estimated total sales for 2014 is 80 million dollars! He also spoke about how TPT has taken on new members of the team to help run this million-dollar corporation and he concluded by introducing the new CFO.
As we all scattered about trying to make it to our various sessions, you began to notice familiar faces. It was almost surreal to see people that looked like someone you’d seen before but maybe you weren’t sure where. Then you would notice their button and it would all CLICK! I know you! Almost every one was wearing a button with their logo on it, or name of their store, or blog. I have to tell you that if I hadn’t been stalking following Kristie from Easy Teaching Tools I wouldn’t have known to go over to Zazzle and make one for myself. It really made you seem official even though I was the newbie in the mix. All the VIP’s were wearing them including ME! You also had to have your business cards handy. Every smile and introduction followed by a card exchange.
The next session I sat in on was called Winning at Facebook: How to Connect, Engage, and Inspire by the dynamic Laura Candler of Learning Resources. Her presentation was well organized and gave a lot of information. She was clear on letting us know that there is no sure fire way to get a million followers but that there are some techniques that have worked for her. She went through a thorough tutorial on how to post, and what types of things to post, and when to post. It was particularly interesting that she actually collected data from teachers who run successful FB pages and used that to present to us the best strategies for building our pages. Overall this session was very informative and I felt like I left with a lot of useful information. One tidbit that I took away was that you could actually schedule posts within your FB page. I thought this was a very convenient feature especially for working teachers with families like us!
Then it was time to break for lunch on your own. Everyone scattered about, mingled with each other, and broke off for lunch. The halls became instant social zones, full of groups admiring each other, taking pictures, and giving complements on each other’s work. Like everyone else, I walked through the hall catching a glimpse of each person’s button. And sure enough I ran right into a few of my favorite Instabloggers, and TPT sellers. As I set out for Vegas there were a few people I set out to meet, one being Jennifer from 4mulafun. She is the guru of interactive notebooks and I love her work. Then there is Kristen from Easy Teaching Tools I already mentioned how I stalk follow her blog regularly.
As you know I struck out on this venture solo, so I found myself preparing to dine alone. I decided on a pizza. So think Subway meets your favorite pizza spot. That’s right! You go through the line and pick out your ingredients as the staff builds your pizza in front of your eyes. It was delicious! In line there was a group of ladies that were wearing… you guessed it BUTTONS! Of course I was shocked because I recognized most of them from Instagram! I swear it was starting to feel like running into your favorite celebrities! We started talking and they welcomed me with open arms. You may know them. Jessica from Ideas by Jivey, Amanda from Collaboration Cuties, Holly of 4th Grade Flipper, Joanne from Head over Heels for Teaching and Christy from Teaching in Oz
Next for me was Beginning Blogging: It’s Serious Business by Miss Kindergarten herself, Hadar Mador. She was bubbly and fun and gave a detailed tutorial on how to maximize the use of your blog through blogger. Now I chose to personally set up GMTA through WordPress and the jury is still out on that decision… Nevertheless, her session was still very informative for me. Even though it was not the same vehicle that I use, she definitely showed me how I should be driving it. She even went a step further by sending me a WordPress resource. One thing that was mentioned unanimously by several of the presenters I met that day was the use of a Cannon Rebel Camera. This is the go to camera a lot of the bloggers, and sellers swear by its ease of use, and professional quality photos. I don’t have one yet but it’s most definitely on my Christmas list!
I then went to Make Your Products POP by the gracious Jennifer White from First Grade Blue Skies. This was probably the most informative session for me of the day. She really had a well organized, and detailed presentation complete with handouts and amazing resources! (All sessions had downloadable handouts available but she went a step above by printing them out and provided a 2nd handout from a previous session of hers). She showed great examples of what sets apart a product from another. She also gave great tips and techniques to use when creating products. All the presenters had little raffles going on within their sessions and Jennifer had several things to give away and I was the lucky recipient of her Biography activity packet available in her store. I am so excited to use it in my classroom this year! While sitting in this session I happen to look over to my left and see none other the adorable Vera, The Tu Tu Teacher and YES she was wearing a tutu! She is another fabulous teacher that I discovered on instagram.
Immediately following the day’s breakout sessions there was a happy hour! That’s right, complete with open bars, photo booth, music, message boards, and more opportunities to mingle with these celebrity teachers! When I tell you that it was a great time, I mean we had a blast! Teachers really know how to party! Paul was presented with an awesome gift from the people at TPT. It was an image that included practically every seller’s logo to make a larger image. It was a pretty cool gift and nice to know my logo was included in the design.
After a day filled with fun, and excitement mixed with a little mental overload, I had just enough time to freshen up and change for my first ever blogger meet up. The amazing Kristen of Easy Teaching Tools and the incredible Courtney of Ramona Recommends hosted it! The meet up was at The Bourbon Room in The Venetian. It was such a good time with about 70 teachers present. I met my first fan here and more of the amazing teachers that I had discovered over the past few months. Such as: The Brown Bag Teacher, Mr. Elementary Math, Mrs. Renz, Primary Inspired, A first for Everything. It was really a great time, full of laughs, treats, and good conversation. I was also so lucky to be one of the winners of their Erin Condren giveaway. This was a great way to end a long day. We were able to unwind and really enjoy each other.
In celebration of launching Great Minds Teach Alike I have some amazing items sponsored by some amazing teachers! That’s right it’s your opportunity to WIN BIG! Just enter using the Rafflecopter entry below .You can have multiple entries by completing each task listed! This giveaway will last one week. Then I’ll announce the winner on all of my social networking pages, so make sure you are following! Thank you so much for reading and please leave your comments below (be nice its my 1st blog post) My hope is that your TEACH AWAY from this post was don’t be afraid to take risks it might turn out better than you think!!!!