Birds of a Feather Really Do Flock Together - Part 2

I'm back with more details about the Northeastern Regional Meet-Up that our WNY TpT Team hosted in Binghamton at the beginning of May.  (If you'd like to check out the first post about the big day...just click here.)

BEFORE

The regional meet-up started months in advance.  Our team each took on tasks to try to create the very best possible day for everyone attending the meet-up.  As you can imagine there were tons of meetings, phone calls, emails, trips to Michael's and Target and coordination...but it was all worth it!


The night before our meet-up, we had the chance to meet some fellow TpT-ers for some dinner and drinks.  That's when it all started feeling super real..."Like, oh man, they're really here...we better not blow this!"

That's Susan, Connie, Jen, Lori, Sherri, Amy, Selma, Shelly, Me, Stefany, and Anne

DURING


The day of the event started nice and early to give us lots of time for set up.  I couldn't wait to get all the decor set up in the room!

(BEFORE)









And then, the most wonderful thing happened...everyone started arriving!  

There were lots of introductions and handshakes and hugs and geeking-out over TpT.  So fun!  When, people arrived they got their name tags (made by Karry at Yay for PreK)...


then, they picked up their goodie bags,


dropped off their Teacher Tool Exchange Item (a $10 or less teacher tool that they would be gifting to another teacher in exchange for a new tool),


got their smile on at the photo booth,

photobooth, homemade photo booth, photo booth ideas, photo booth props, event photo booth

photo booth props, photo booth idea, handmade photo booth

Birds of a Feather wooden signs made and donated by Our Hobby to Your Home

participated in People Bingo and then settled into their seats.

Before we knew it, it was time to get the day started.  Our team did a little introduction

and then, Jen Jones from Hello Literacy gave a fantastic, information-packed presentation to the group. It was awesome!


We broke up the day with giveaway name drawings...during transitions 6 people had the chance to go and pick a prize from the giveaway tables.  (That may have been the worst part of the day...choosing just one set of prizes!)



Magna Memos dry erase board and pillow from Joelle's Corner

Before lunch, we started 2 of the 6 facilitated discussion groups.  Meet-up attendees rotated to 6 stations about collaboration, success tips and tricks, file management, technology, social media, and idea sparks.  A HUGE thanks to Anne from Common Core Connection, Melissa Machan, Shelly Rees, and Jen from Hello Literacy for helping our planning team to facilitate the discussions!


I had the fantastic opportunity to work with Melissa Machan.  We facilitated a group on TpT Success Tips and Tricks and while we didn't get to facilitate a group at the same time, it was so much fun planning our group together.  She's super fun and kind and creative.


(Here she is leaving with all her swag...that's her "It's all so heavy!" pose.)

At lunch time, we took a group picture...

and each of us selected a Teacher Tool from the Teacher Tool Exchange table.  I was lucky enough to pick a gift from Connie of Magnifying Math.  Check it out!

(She had me at permanent markers...and the magnetic tape...amazing!)

During the afternoon, we also planned a product review.  Everyone brought a product that is selling well and one they'd like feedback on.  Then, in their groups, they passed around the products, commented on the elements of a high-quality resource, and then brainstormed a list of what makes a great product to share out with the entire group.  




The day flew by...and before long it was time to grab a few more pictures with each other and say good bye.


AFTER


I was bummed when it was all over...there was such wonderful energy and inspiring people in that room in Binghamton!  I know that for me, I spend a lot of time trying to share how much I love Teachers Pay Teachers with the people in my daily life...and most of them politely listen...but, to be surrounded by people who truly "get it" and to genuinely learn from each other...it was amazing!  It also sparked a real product-creation fire.  I got home and started creating these new resources...
This or That - Daily ELA Warm-Ups

Oh, and now I'm becoming slightly obsessed with the people I met at the meet-up.  I scan the homepage for their pictures.  I can't wait to open the TpT newsletter to see if they're in it.  I look for their logos and words in the forum.  It's super fun to feel so connected to them all!

For more details about the event, you can check out this post or this one too.

Special thanks to Jen Jones for traveling in for the event and Amy from TpT for supporting the event.  Thanks also to Teachers Pay Teachers for providing a yummy breakfast and swag for the event.  Also, thanks Donna at Worth a Thousand Words for taking and sharing photos from the event.  Oh, and I'm nuts about what I won in the giveaway.  Thanks Said in Layers (note cards), The Scarlet Thread (seat sack), The Class Clown (pencil holder), and JDoore Creations (school garland)!


And...a few more thanks for all the companies and artists that donated to the event.  I had the pleasure of working with these kind and generous people and businesses...

Classroom Friendly Supplies - the BEST pencil sharpeners ever! Paper Sushi - Custom rubber stamps, wedding designs, packaging
Love Small Town USA - Personalized wedding gifts, jewelry holders, key hooks
MagnaMemos - Magnetic dry erase memo boards with magnets
Watch My Dive - Quilts, blankies, blankets, and fabric baskets
Gifts by Gaby - Personalized gifts and home decor
Jo-Elle Coastal Crafters - Candles, pillows, and decor
Said in Layers - Notecards
Our Hobby to Your Home - Wedding and family signs
Queen Bee Inspirations - Greeting cards, wedding and party signs and props
JDoore Creations - Handmade cards and paper goods
Betty Lou Designs - Fabric headbands

Thanks for stopping by!


Secondary Smorgasbord...Summer or Bust

I'm linking up with the Secondary Smorgasbord crew to shed a little light on what my family and I like to do once school officially ends.  

Here are my two boys headed off to the last day of school last year.

I know that for me, summer is all about taking time to relax and refocus. Since my husband is a teacher, we get to have a lot of family bonding / getting on everyone's nerves time...and this is what we like to do... 

Swim

We sign up for a community pool every year...and try to spend as much time in the water as possible.




Travel

I'm off to Vegas for the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in July. (I'll be presenting on a panel for starting sellers.)  Then, as a family we're hoping to take a trip to Boston.



Golf

Yes...that's right, I've decided if I can't beat 'em, I better join 'em.  My boys love to golf and I'm determined to love it by the end of the summer, too!


Goof Off


Summer is all about letting loose and having some fun...



Celebrate the season

From parades to fireworks to baseball games...we're all about maximizing the season!


Create new instructional resources

I love writing curriculum, and the summer affords me even more time to do it.  I plan to work on new task cards for my Learning Take Out series...and a few more Reading Comprehension Skill Centers...


and most importantly...we'll be spending this summer trying to beat the heat.  We don't have air conditioning!

Thanks ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for hosting the Summer Fun Linky!




Birds of a Feather Really Do Flock Together

To tell you the truth, when Sherri (from Literary Sherri) and I first brought the idea of a regional TpT meet-up to our local meet-up group, I was kind of thinking that maybe we could get about ten people to come.  Then...through some amazing teamwork from the event organizers on our WNY TpT Team...this happened...

Oh, and this...
Back Row:  Robyn, Amy (yes, TpT Amy), Sherri, Ellen, Susan, and Selma
Front Row:  Jen (THE Jen Jones) and me!
Not Pictured (but super critical to the success of the event) Karry from Yay for PreK, Lora from Kinders in New York and Donna from Worth a Thousand Words.

And, what a meet-up it was!

But...before I spill all the juicy details of the event...perhaps I should start at the beginning.  Our goal from the start was to gather other TpT-ers and spend time really, truly learning from one another.  We wanted to plan a day of collaboration with tons of tips and tricks for how to grow our TpT businesses.  So, for several months we worked together to plan this event.  There was a bunch to do - registrations, payment coordination, communication with attendees, gathering donations (over $10,000 worth), making and designing the decor, creating an agenda with tons of meaningful content, stuffing goodie bags, preparing the giveaway prizes and coordinating with one another.  Thank goodness there was a team of us!  Thanks Lora, Karry, Selma, Susan, Ellen, Robyn, Donna, and Sherri!


About the Donations

Teachers (and TpT teacher-authors) love free stuff, so a couple of us took on the task of asking a lot of people - businesses, etsy artists, friends, and national companies to contribute to this event.  And the coolest part was that sometimes they said, "Yes!"  (See a listing of some of the donors below.)  I'm not kidding when I say, that the overwhelming response from those who donated was "We LOVE teachers!"  How cool is that?   On the day of the event, the swag was overflowing...

Goodie bags for each attendee.

Here's what was inside the goodie bags.  Do you see that red card on the bottom right?  There's a link on the back of it that provides access to over 3,000 pages of digital donations from fellow TpT teacher-authors.  That's right, our own community of teacher-authors donated to the event.  Pretty amazing!




Teachers Pay Teachers donated a tote bag and water bottle to each attendee...and Acco donated 2 project notebooks that we stuffed inside each bag.  Plus, TpT sponsored the breakfast!  Thanks and Yum!

The giveaways were epic.  Hue donated 3 iCreate Hue document cameras that were raffled off.  Plus, each person's name was pulled from a bag throughout the day.

Then, they came up to the table and picked a prize.  The prizes, were amazing...gift cards to TpT, a 1/2 hour Skype session with Rachel Lynette, handcrafted awesomeness from Etsy artists, themed gift baskets donated by each WNY TpT Team member, and so, so much more!


Our Special Guests

We were all so humbled by the fact that Jen Jones from Hello Literacy offered to not only attend our event, but also present to the entire group and host 6 round table discussions...oh, and she did it all on her own time and dime.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Jen came to the Birds of a Feather Flock Together meet-up and shared all her insight with each of us and she didn't ask for a thing.  I loved her before I met her, but let me just say that having spent time with her on Friday and sitting in on her presentations on Saturday, I have even more respect, love, and gratitude for her.  She's humble and smart and real and talented.  Do you use her fonts?  If not, get over to Hello Literacy right now.  This lady's got it going on!


Another amazing addition to the event was Amy from TpT.  Have you met Amy before?  If so, you already know that she's warmer, kinder, brilliant-er, funnier, and awesome-er than you can even imagine.  Amy's the type of person who makes you feel like you've been friends with her for years after just a two-minute exchange of words.  I love that!  I also love that her passion for TpT and the teacher-authors that work so hard absolutely oozes out of her.  She's a careful and thoughtful listener and a sweet and beautiful person.  She participated in every aspect of the day.  I didn't think I could love her more, but somehow, I do!


All the attendees!  I'm nuts about all the people I got to meet on Saturday.  I love that they put their lives on hold to grow a TpT community (#tptflock 4eva!).  I love that they came into a room of strangers and opened their minds and hearts to one another.  I love that they shared their experiences and ideas so that we all could do a better job.  It's pretty invigorating to be around 50+ people who are passionate about the exact same thing as you.  If you're like me, you try to explain TpT to other people (and their eyes glaze over), so being in a room with people who know about custom categories and thumbnails and site-wide sales is just plain awesome!  Oh, and I loved that there was a whole spectrum of experience in the room.  There were people who were just starting their stores and people who are total TpT rock stars...and the best part...you couldn't tell the difference!



I have so much more to tell you about the event...but that's coming in another blog post!  Until then...here's a couple more pics to hold you over.



Custom Signs by Our Hobby to Your Home





Goodie Bag Donors:

Cobble Works - Open fabric pockets
Making a Nest of It - Mini-notepad, clothespin bookmark, store coupon
Sparkly Something - Sparkly clothespin
Sweet June Bug Designs - Jumbo paperclip bookmarks
The Class Clown - Covered Binder Clips, milkweed seed packs
Unshelved Designs - Coupon
Roberson Museum and Science Center - Coupon
Hello Literacy - Lanyards
WNY TpT Team Organizers:  Literary Sherri, Brain Waves Instruction, Ellen Weber, Kinders in NY, Selma Dewani, Yay for PreK, The Math Spot
Laura Love to Teach - Coupon
Poppydreamz Digital Clipart - Coupon
Worth a Thousand Words - Coupon and hand sanitizer
To the Square Inch - Dice Game


Some of the Etsy Artist Donors:

Paper Sushi - Custom rubber stamps, wedding designs, packaging

Love Small Town USA - Personalized wedding gifts, jewelry holders, key hooks
MagnaMemos - Magnetic dry erase memo boards with magnets
Watch My Dive - Quilts, blankies, blankets, and fabric baskets
Gifts by Gaby - Personalized gifts and home decor
Jo-Elle Coastal Crafters - Candles, pillows, and decor
Said in Layers - Notecards
Our Hobby to Your Home - Wedding and family signs
Queen Bee Inspirations - Greeting cards, wedding and party signs and props
JDoore Creations - Handmade cards and paper goods
Betty Lou Designs - Fabric headbands


Thanks for stopping by!

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