On Tuesday morning, I set off to attend the 2014 First Annual Teachers Pay Teachers Sellers Conference. It would be the first time that TpT sellers and TpT staff came together as a corporation to celebrate everything this website has accomplished. To say it was “an amazing week” is quite an understatement.
Although I could tell you about what I learned from a business standpoint at the conference this week (and I learned a lot), that’s not what I want to write about. That’s not why I blog. It’s not why you read blogs. So I’m going to write this post from an emotional perspective because that is what is in my heart right now. <3 🙂
I started my blogging and TpT adventure in 2011. Over the past three and a half years, it has become quite a big part of my life. It has enabled me to grow as a teacher. It has raised the achievement of my students. It has challenged me professionally and personally. Through being a seller, I have been able to provide tablets for my students to help with their technology skills. I am able to provide materials, supplies, and books for my classroom and kids without putting financial stress on my family. But all of that is not why we sell. The true meaning to why TpT sellers do what we do was evident this week – we do it because we love kids and we love teaching. We also love each other. These fellow bloggers and sellers from all over the world have become some of my very best friends. It is not unusual for us to text each other ten or so times a day, call each other up with a question, or be there for each other when we need support and encouragement.
There are three main words that came to my mind this week as I thought about what Teachers Pay Teachers stands for to me: Impact, Heart, and Gratitude.
It’s no question that TpT impacts teachers around the world. There is one special person who has made a BIG impact on my life. His name is Paul Edelman and he is the founder of Teachers Pay Teachers. I had the opportunity to meet him this week. I can’t remember what I said to him. I was too overwhelmed…and shocked…and emotional. I don’t think I really made sense, but getting to hug him and tell him “thank you” was perhaps the greatest moment of this whole week. Because of HIS dreams, he has caused a ripple effect in helping others reach their dreams. He is humble, brilliant, and passionate about students, teachers, and the TpT mission. You could feel the compassion he has for TpT all the way across the conference room and I cried as I listened to his speech and tried to take in everything that TpT has done for me, my family, and my students. He has truly changed my life and I am so thankful!
I finally got to meet the adorable Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump’s Class. She is just as precious and sweet as she looks! Deanna was the keynote speaker for Friday’s conference and she did an amazing job. As she shared her TpT story and journey with us, we laughed, cried, and cheered. Her message was powerful and clear: Dream as big as you can, work hard, be patient, and stay humble. What a wonderful message for ANY career. <3
Amy from TpT! She is simply awesome! She cares so much about TpT and about us! And we all just love her!!
I wish I could show you a video of what it looked like when we all met. We would walk through the hotel and someone would notice a fellow seller and you would instantly hear shrieking and squeals. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs would follow. It was like finally seeing your very best friends for the first time in years – or in many cases, the first time ever. I discovered that TpT sellers have so much HEART. We all know that teachers have special hearts. We would not have gotten into this career if we didn’t. So can you imagine putting 800 of them together in one room to join in collaboration and celebration?! Oh.My.Word. Amazing is the only way to describe it.
Here are some pictures of some of the wonderful TpT friends that I got to meet this week and some of my friends who I got to see and hang out with again!
My sweet friend Sarah from Sarah’s First Grade Snippets. I was so, so happy to meet her. She is just as bubbly and positive as she is on her blog. She was a JOY to be around! 🙂
Jen from Out of this World Literacy, Jessica from Second Grade Nest, Heather from 2 Brainy Apples, and myself! These three girls were awesome. We got to hang out a lot over this past week and they are so sweet and fun! Jen and Heather were on my flight from Atlanta to Vegas and we had so much fun chatting on the plane. When I heard them tell the flight attendant that they were headed to Vegas for a one day conference, I shrieked, “Are you girls from TpT?!?” It was instant friendship from that point on! 🙂
I got to catch up with Jodi from Fun In First. We hadn’t seen each other since a blogger meet up in Kentucky a year or so ago. She is adorable!
Kelley from The Teacher Idea Factory. Kelley gave an awesome presentation Friday! I learned so much from her and I about died when she told me she uses my sub plan pack in her classroom. 🙂 I was honored! I’m updating that pack this week, by the way! Kelley gave me the kick start I needed to get movin’ on revisions to old products! 🙂
Haley from My Silly Firsties. We got to have dinner together and finally get to know each other “in real life.” 🙂
One of my FAVORITE bloggers, Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher. She is kind and just as sweet as she is on her blog! In this pic we were trying to stand up as straight as we could and see who was taller haha.
Jessica and I! We were really good at always locating the nearest Starbucks. She quickly became such a great friend this week! We laughed until we cried! (And yes, Heather…we see you back there!) <3
Lisa from Growing Firsties and Laura from Peace, Love, and First Grade were SO sweet! I had a blast hanging out with them at the SDE I Teach 1st conference! We learned so much and I’m excited for all of the new tricks and tools I gained to bring back to my classroom.
Of course I had to take a pic with Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher. We talk every.single.day and it was amazing to get to finally meet her! I cried when she left. That is not an exaggeration – actual tears when we said goodbye. <3
I also got to meet Farrah Shipley who brought Whole Brain Teaching into my classroom! She was just as spunky and spirited as I pictured her being in my head! 🙂 <3
During the I Teach 1st conference, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet one of my blog followers, Heather! Heather was SO sweet and she taught me some great new web resources that I can’t wait to try out this year. Heather, if you are reading this – it was a joy to meet you!
This piece of art was presented to Paul from all of us at TpT. It contains a thank you message and everyone’s store logos. We also gave a version to the TpT staff. Special thanks to Rachel Lynette from Minds in Bloom and Michelle, The 3am Teacher, for making this gift come to life.
The sheer gratitude that we all felt after the conference was hard to put into words. I am so thankful and so grateful for having this opportunity this week. It made TpT/Blogging REAL to me. We were no longer these little square blog buttons that we talked to over our computer screens. We were friends and family. There were many of us in tears during the keynote speeches. These were tears of happiness and gratitude. From being able to purchase school supplies for our classrooms, to building or buying our first homes, to being able to bring a baby home after an adoption – the stories of gratitude were endless this week. Many of us had met before, but it was a different feeling when we were all in the same room for the same purpose. We came together to celebrate what TpT has done for our students, our schools, our teaching professions, our personal lives, and the many teachers/kids that our products reach.
During his keynote speech, Paul Edelman mentioned that this conference and where TpT is at today has been “8 years in the making.” If this company has touched this many lives over the course of 8 years, I cannot even fathom the sheer amount of impact it will have on the next 8 years. <3 I am so grateful to be a part of the TpT family! As a blog follower, thank YOU for being a part of this experience as well! 🙂
–I did not put all of my Vegas pics in this post. You can check out more of my Vegas pictures by following me on my Instagram account @missdecarbo.
🙂 I hope you have a happy, happy week!
You can read other bloggers’ Vegas experiences by visiting A Burst of First’s linky party!