Monday, July 14, 2014

Teachers Pay Teachers Conference 2014

Warning: This is my first blog post. Ever. I am SO excited to be starting my blog – I am in the process of getting a cute custom design for it so please excuse the mess :)

So I just got back from the first ever Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Vegas. It was absolutely a.m.a.z.i.n.g.! Hearing Paul (the founder of TpT) and Deanna Jump speak about their TpT journeys was so inspiring and wonderful. I definitely teared up a few times. It is so clear that they have both worked so incredibly hard, are good people, and deserve all of their success. Paul promised every one of us almost 800 crazy TpTers a hug and I’m proud to say that I claimed mine!

Paul, the founder of TpT
One of the biggest things I learned at the conference is that I need a blog, like, yesterday. I need to turn off Big Brother & The Bachelorette for 2 seconds and get it together :) I am so excited to be able to connect to other bloggers and wish I had done it sooner! I am just figuring all of this out but I am very excited! 

So I arrived on Thursday night to the Venetian and was blown away by its beauty! This was my first trip to Vegas so I didn’t realize how absolutely massive the casinos are. Thank goodness Mr. Giraffe has a sense of direction or I’d probably still be wandering around the casino looking for our room!

Speaking of me not always being the smartest giraffe at the zoo, here’s a funny story for you... I hop on the escalator to get to the conference rooms and a few girls get on at the same time that I do. I smile and say to the girl who is closest to me, “Do you guys TpT?” and right as I say this, I look up and realize Deanna Jump is IN this group of girls and, because I’m oh-so-eloquent, I immediately blurt at her,

“Oh my gosh it’s Deanna Jump!”

like I just saw a Backstreet Boy and I’m 12. Did I really just ask Deanna Jump if she TpTs?? That’s like asking Michael Jordan if he ever plays basketball. Maybe she didn’t hear my silly question? Let’s just go with that. But seriously, she was SO warm and friendly as we rode up the escalator. Her accent is adorable and you can tell she is just a kind soul. She must have spent the majority of her conference time so sweetly talking to the hundreds of people who wanted to speak to her. I wanted to get a quick picture with her so I found her towards the end of the Happy Hour after the sessions and it was like a Meet and Greet at a concert. She was SURROUNDED by teachers circling her like she was the last set of matching buckets in the Target Dollar Spot the week before school starts but she handled it so well! While I was waiting for my turn for a picture, she was speaking to everyone that came up to her like they were her best friend. I was so impressed by how humble she is. I’d post the picture of her and I but my giraffe spots have stretched a little this summer from all the Mexican food Mr. Giraffe and I have been eating! :) I know summer is almost over {say it ain’t so!} but I am so down for a summer weight loss challenge if anyone wants to buddy up!

So THE SESSIONS.I went to Miss Kindergarten’s Beginning Blogging session and it was SO GREAT! I created my blog at the very end of May 2013 when I first started my store but hadn’t done anything with it and this was the perfect motivation and information to get me started. Miss Kindergarten was a really wonderful presenter and provided a wealth of information! You can download her very helpful handout for her presentation {here} from her store – it has some great info and links to tutorials. You can tell she put a lot of work into it and it was so kind of her to share all her little tips and tricks. She was the perfect person to learn about blogging from because her blogs is one of the cutest blogs there is! If you’ve never been to it, you should check it out!

I also attended Laura Candler’s Facebook session. I just created my Facebook yesterday as well!! Please share your Facebook with me if you’d like to be Facebook buddies. I’m very new to having a Facebook Page but Laura’s session gave me the confidence to jump in! This was jam-packed with a lot of info too! I am so glad I went to it.

I loved how Laura, in effective teacher fashion, had us talk to the people around us about what we were learning about. Everyone was super nice and it was great to meet other TpTers. One of the times my little group was talking, we shared our store names and I realized that one of the girls in my group was Lory Evans! THE Lory Evans! She is amazing – I fangirled out a little bit telling her how much I love her amazing blog. Why do I jgkgkl;;bxfdsf when I meet TpT-lebrities? It’s funny, I’ve met so many artists and bands from all the concerts I’ve been to over the years and I never get like that but for some reason I was star struck over seeing and meeting these wonderful people that I’ve looked up to for so long.

Speaking of that, the hubby and I got to meet Amy Lemons and Hope King when they were behind us in the line for the photobooth! I’m sure you know their AMAZING and popular blogs Step Into 2nd Grade and Second Grade Shenanigans. It was fun getting to talk to them for a few minutes – they were really cool!

It was just so great to meet other TpTers! As soon as we arrived in Vegas, I headed for a meetup in the Zebra Lounge. I almost left because I got there late and wasn’t sure which tables of people were the TpTers. So glad I didn't!! I thankfully ran into the very sweet The Teacher Next Door who directed me towards everyone! I got to meet a lot of fellow TpTers like Janine Campos, Got to Teach, Rockin Resources, The Teaching Bank, 4 The Love of Math, and more!

My last session of the day was Advanced Pinterest by Mel D. Mel D was HIL-arious. She is great in front of a crowd of people – kept us all engaged and laughing. From “You can call me Pindiana Jones” to all her great tips, it was another fantastic session! I’m already a total pinterest nerd so I knew a lot coming in (especially compared to blogging and having a Facebook page, eesh! I was clueless!) but I still learned a lot!

After the sessions and happy hour, Mr. Giraffe and I decided to have some fun on the strip. We had a blast!! We walked around and saw all the sights, watched the Bellagio Fountains go off, and then went on an epic quest for noodles. We kept passing this Noodles Asia restaurant in the hotel and, after we walked the strip for a few hours, we randomly decided that WE. MUST. HAVE. NOODLES. Once we got back to the Venetian, it was as if it had disappeared! Where are our precious noodles?! We must have walked around for 30 minutes looking for it but it was SO DELICIOUS once we found it. After we were sitting there for a little while enjoying our scrumptious noodle dreams being realized, we realized it was 12:30 A.M.! Waaay past our bedtime. We may not have rode on the gondola ride or that huge ferris wheel, gone to the pool, or done any of the typical Vegas adventures like we had planned to but we did get some midnight noodles. Ohh, priorities! I did have a fun adventure searching for the huge ferris wheel with a fun group of TpTers I met the night before the conference though! Next year we’ll actually ride it?? :)

Anyway, this post is so long, I just wanted to share my conference experience. I wish I had taken pictures! It was just C-R-A-Z-Y wonderful to be surrounded by so many fellow TpTers! I absolutely loved seeing everyone and met a lot of fabulous people! If I met you, please say hi! I’d love to follow your blog! Whether I met you or not – if you went to the conference, what did you love about it and/or learn? If you are a TpT seller and didn’t go this year, I so recommend you start planning to go to it next year!!

In celebration of my very first post (and if you’re still actually on this post after all that blabbing), here is a freebie for you!
Secret Word CVC Short A Word Families FREE

Secret Word CVC Short A Word Families

Still learning how to use Google Docs so I can provide exclusive freebies on the blog!

Thanks for reading!! #tptvegas2014 #TpTVegas14