Sunday, July 5, 2009


Online friend, Paul Bogush has noticed I haven't written the obligatory follow-up to my experiences at NECC....Well, here they are, just for you, Paul.

I have already responded via comment to one post about NECC on Lee's blog. But that was sort of a negative slant. Here, I want to talk about the other side of my experiences...The all-consuming positive side.

After an unexplained one hour delay at the Detroit airport, we arrived at the Baltimore airport about 4 p.m. We hopped in a cab bound for downtown D.C. Forty harrowing minutes later, we arrived at our destination, The historic Mayflower hotel. The cab driver broke the handle on my luggage while yanking it out of the minivan and I was not in the best frame of mind after having to brace myself against the front seat as we hurtled from 75 mph to 0 at one point. However, the rest of the trip was nearly magic.

As everyone undoubtedly knows, I work very part-time for FableVision. The company and the people who work there are so close to my heart, it's like we are all very best friends even from the first minutes of meeting. I run a program for educators who believe in the work FableVision does...which is almost everyone who comes in contact with them. I am not a salesperson...nor do I want to be. I just enjoy sharing the experiences my students have had. The first night, pure bliss...A dinner with the amazing software designer and dear friend Peggy Healy Stearns, Julia Young, and the newly formed sales team and my wonderful wife.

On Sunday, I was the FableVision representative at the Contructivist Consortium Celebration. If you haven't been to the celebration, you must give it a try. It is honestly the best of what education can be. TRUE Professional Development. Here is how it works. The morning launches with a talk by Gary Stager and Melinda Kolk (Tech-4-Learning)...stirring the crowd. Then, the educators present devour some of the best Constructivist software out there. Working with peers, talking, dreaming, imagining, creating...Watching teacher being given the most valuable commodity (time) is a rare treat. As my school is filled with distrust and derision, it is spirit renewing to watch people do exactly what they are charged to do....create! The day ended with a talk by my friend, Peter H. Reynolds. The funny thing for me was watching the people who did not know him...To see the spark that has motivated so many...The inspired talk and the information that we all knew at one point, but maybe forgot.... It is KIDS at the center of all we do. It will never be tests that motivate us ...or the kids for that matter. It's the genuine love and connection that gets us out of bed every morning.

Joining me in the Constructivist Celebration was a phenomenal force of energy, Cristine Goldberg from Georgia and Peggy Healy Stearns. The true wonder of this experience for me was meeting some online friends. Andrea Hernandez, Lee Kolbert, Anna Adam, and Cheryl Woolwine. ALL gentle wonderful human beings that I felt an instant connection to. What a glorious feeling. (My apologies if I forgot someone)

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were spent in the FableVision booth. An amazing time as I watched the company I have represented so many times become "the" place to be. It was a non-stop stream of positive and wonderful people stopping by to chat and get the full experience. I was again able to meet LOTS of people I have met online.....TOO many to name individually. It seems that many people now see what I have always's a company with heart and a mission.

Nights were spent with my Fablebuddies and frequently we wound up back at the hotel to hang out with Peter H. Reynolds or the Twinspiration (Peter and Paul Reynolds). GREAT TIMES! When have you ever sat at a table and, instead of meaningless chitchat, been asked what book you are going to write? That's what it's like to hang with FableVision!

So, the big learning of the week.... Well, people are pretty much the same in person as online. OK, that was a bit of a shocker. The guy who I thought was completely full of much that I had to stop reading the blog, was, indeed full of himself (I am not naming names).

Everyone who comes across online as kind/sweet/generous, was exactly that. Only one sort of surprise...Sherry from South Dakota, Lee Kolbert, Andrea Hernandez, Shannon Smith and Cheryl Woolwine are sweet online and actually MORE sweet in person (hard to believe). Hanging out with the five of them (separately) was amazing. I was glad I could introduce a few of them to Peter H. Reynolds because I could tell their spirits collide in a positive way.

My final thoughts on NECC 2009.....Life changing. I miss my NECC friends more than any other time. The relationships grow deeper and it is harder to think about going back five weeks from now to a place where I have a few friends and am not appreciated by adults whatsoever. So, I shall savor my memories and dream of a better place and a better spirit that shall sail me through the bad times.... For I am truly on a journey-- a wonderfully bumpy journey. Sometimes my suitcase gets broken and I get delayed, but I always have hope....and in my constellation, I have some of the greatest people the World has ever known.


Andrea said...

I was just about to post my similar NECC-flections. It is nice to read the positive take on things! Sorry I didn't make it over to the Fablevision booth, but I will be playing with my new software. Good thing I know where to go for help if I get stuck :-)

It was fun meeting you, too, if only briefly. See ya next year, I hope!

diane said...


I'm hoping to attend NECC 2010 in Denver. My question to you - and other online movers and shakers - is what do you see as the role for retired educators? We have a lot to contribute but lack the classroom connection. Am I a has been or an elder statesman? This is a question I'll be pondering for a while. Your insights would be appreciated.

TJ Shay said...

Andrea--I have responded as a comment on your blogpost....We are like minded!

Diane-- Most retired teachers have a lot to teach those of us still 'in practice.' Because you have the benefit of experience, plus the time to reflect, you are an invaluable resource. You have 'been there and done that' and you can share your wisdom with me at any time.

I fear some of the younger teachers I have worked with don't have the respect for their elders that would be very useful....but some people have to learn lessons for themselves.

Please speak your mind, share your experiences, share your heart, and cheer us all across the finish line.

Lee Kolbert said...

Shhhhh! I like to keep it a secret that I can be even sweeter than I am online. Now you've ruined everything! LOL

What an inspirational post, TJ. I'm already looking forward to next year when I hope we can schedule some time to really sit down and chat. Maybe lunch...

sylvia martinez said...

Nice to see you at NECC, TJ! You forgot to mention that you were the "go to" guy at the Constructivist Celebration for Animationish. There were lots of people there who had a more positive experience because of your expertise. Thanks!

Paul Bogush said...

It would be neat to have a "NECC" without the speakers and venders. Just a time and date for like minded individuals to show up and mingle, face-to-face, and have conversations that are longer than 140 characters or more in-depth than blog posts and comments. I think I am meeting Lee at a edubloggercon in Boston in a couple weeks..I'll let you know if she was just faking in Washington ;)

"It is KIDS at the center of all we do. It will never be tests that motivate us ...or the kids for that matter. It's the genuine love and connection that gets us out of bed every morning."
That is indeed what helps us conquer the...
"place where I have a few friends and am not appreciated by adults whatsoever."

diane said...

I'm with Paul - my first NECC, in San Antonio, was so over-whelming that I spent the bulk of my time in the Bloggers'Cafe. That was where my heart was, anyway: with all the people I connected with almost daily.

The seminars, panels, etc. are valuable but can be accessed online. It's the human element, the one-to-one interaction, that we all crave. I hope we can set up a huge, rocking Cafe in Denver. I might never leave!