I had the privilege of attending Nearpod Transform this past February. This was actually my 3rd yearly Nearpod conference I have attended. To say that this is not a typical educational technology conference may be the biggest understatement of the year.
To start with we should look at Nearpod as a company. Like it’s conferences it is not a typical ed tech company. Nearpod was started by 3 friends who wanted to make a difference in education. When you hear any of them talk, you hear and see their passion. This is also a company that listens to its customers. When we start talking about issues or new features we would like to see, if it is a consensus, you had better believe you will most likely see it down the road. I really feel as though my voice matters and I know I am just one small voice.
Now back to the conference, how was it different?
They celebrated teachers. We literally walked in to a marching band and spirit line the first morning. Video of entrance One of the first statements was “what if we treated our teachers like we do our pro athletes?” #truth. You walked in feeling proud to be an educator and excited to be at this conference. This celebration continued all weekend long. I would talk about the amazing dinner cruise, but you had to be there. Let’s just say I have never seen a company throw such an event as this one. We had food, drinks, DJ, karaoke, and so much more. There was so much laughter and enjoyment, you would have never guessed we were there for ed tech.
Everyone at the conference has the same vision and focus. Like ed tech conferences, everyone is excited about ed tech, but this is different. Everyone there was excited not only about Nearpod but the difference it was making in our schools and our classrooms. Everyone single person had a story or an awesome idea to share. I am going to take this one step further, because of this focus and passion you build powerful relationships. I met several people two years ago and we have developed more than just a PLN, we are now friends. I keep adding to that group every year.
Never a dull moment. You know at the end of the day during conferences, you are tired and ready to get back to the room. Not at this conference, you are excited and exhausted all at the same time and you do not want to miss a minute. Great break snacks, activities sprinkled all throughout the conference. The session offerings were amazing. You could tell that they put a lot of thought into what they were offering. There was something for everyone at every session.
The staff was involved. You know when you go to conferences or meetings, the staff is always present. Many times running around fixing things, helping, directing, etc.. Well Nearpod staff did this as well, but they interacted with us. If they were monitoring a session, they were participating. When we were eating, they were sitting with us. When we had the dinner boat cruise they hung out and danced with us. The craziest thing is that they knew us. If we are active PioNears and promoting on social media, they pay attention. I felt a little like a rock star.
They focused on the why. This focus started the first day with making buttons and talking to our tables about why we were educators, what is our driving force or reason. The speakers talked about it and it was a recurring theme. The closing session, we wrote letters to those who were our why or have huge influence on our lives/teaching. You would think that was significant enough to make us revisit our passion, oh no then they challenged us to make phone calls to the people we wrote to. I mean it turned into a tear fest - that whole, “I am not crying, you are crying” was in total effect. It was a powerful theme that left me rejuvenated.
If you get the chance next July to come to Transform, you really don’t want to miss it. You will be cherished, celebrated, understood, heard, and you will leave a better educator than you came.