As I gaze into the mirror, the bold, brown eyes staring back at me scream, “Who are you, and what did you do with Andrew?” Throughout the past month, I have tried so many new things I almost don’t recognize myself. I am a fourth-year teacher who is still finding my groove. Don’t get me wrong, I have a solid pedagogy-based foundation (i.e., the why). However, by no means do I consider myself a master teacher. In fact, I consider myself a NEW teacher . . . and really . . . I always will be! If you think about it, at what point does one make that pivotal transformation from rookie to expert, anyways? There is so much to learn, consume, and create - amelioration must remain constant. Thus, the term, new, seems more appropriate. Plus, it beats the alternative, especially when upgrades aren’t happening.
After attending Spring CUE for the very first time last year (read my first post), I became inspired to do more. I owed it to myself. I’ve always loved the classroom, but I want to share my ideas with the world. I want to inspire. I want to transform education! Before I could do any of this though, I had to conquer my fear of applying. Can you blame me though? Applying to present is completely terrifying. (Raise your hand if you agree.) There are so many unknowns involved with the process. What if I don’t get accepted? What if no one comes to my session? What if I just completely bomb? I’m not sure if all applicants go through this mental battle, but I know this feeling all too well!
As I looked through various upcoming conferences, I thought a shotgun approach would produce the most favorable outcome. Thus, I applied to as many conferences as I could. I was hoping if I was lucky enough I would somehow slip through the cracks of the judging criteria and find myself in front of an unsuspecting audience. I waited for the rejection email with much anticipation. The days faded away and nothing, not even a rejection! Was my application so inadequate a response was unwarranted? We all doubt ourselves. That’s a given! We rationalize our situations by hiding behind our insecurities. We ponder whether or not we are good enough, especially in comparison to our idols. You know, the people with thousands and thousands of followers? Many succumb to the pressure and run away in defeat. Few stand in the face of fear and step forward. I get it; it’s tough to be vulnerable. However, the people that think they are crazy enough to change the world . . .
Three weekends ago, I was in Las Vegas presenting at the Silver State Tech Fair for the Nevada CUE affiliate. The weekend before that I was in Sacramento presenting at the CAP CUE Tech Fest. In two weeks, I’ll be presenting at the San Diego CUE Tech Fair. In January, I’ll be presenting at one of the biggest tech conferences in the country, FETC. I’m not saying this to brag in any way, shape, or form (i.e., although I am proud of those accomplishments). I’m saying this because I almost didn’t apply to any of these. I almost robbed myself of the opportunity to meet so many amazing and inspiring people. For instance, in Sacramento, I met Natalie and Ted, a married couple, who have been attending annual teaching conferences together since they were in college (i.e., I believe they’ve been teaching for close to 30 years now). They will never know how much they inspired me. They even took me on a guided night tour of Sacramento and the surrounding area - one memory I will always cherish. In Las Vegas, I met Jamiee Newberry, founder and CEO of Picture This Clothing. I was hesitant to approach her, but I figured if I went this far I might as go all the way. I snuck up on her as she was eating her lunch. What happened next was nothing short of magical. She shared her story with me. I shared mine with her. Do you see the beauty in this? Two complete strangers, each with unique backgrounds, connecting, and engaging in rich and meaningful dialogue facilitated by a conference I almost didn’t apply to.
I’m fortunate to have an amazing fiancée who believes in me, listens to my crazy ideas, and is right there with me in my escapades. Without her support, I wouldn’t be putting myself out there. She is my best friend. I can’t help but think that maybe her and I will be like Natalie and Ted in 30 years. Hopefully, we are still attending CUE conferences together and never losing our passion for teaching. Who knows, maybe, we may even be giving our own guided tours to the next @Gameboydrew? I don’t know where this journey will take us. All that I know is that nothing feels better than this. Shout-out to CUE for providing a platform where I can share my voice, make lasting connections, and be inspired like no other. Also, shout-out to all the awesome people I have met within the past month (e.g., Lindsey Blass, Intelligent Hoodlums, Adam Juarez, Katherine Goyette, Kyle Anderson, Coach Ben, Edward Simoneau, etc.). Lastly, shout-out to all the amazing people I haven’t met, yet!