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This past weekend, I spent two days in Branchburg, NJ at the NJPAECET2 conference with over 200 other educators who willingly gave up their entire weekend to learn and share together.  It was a whirlwind two days packed with inspiring keynote speakers, amazing presenters, and tons of great conversations.


Principal Kafele speaking about the Attitude Gap

Our Saturday morning keynote speaker, Baruti Kafele, spoke passionately about changing the attitude gap in schools.  Never underestimate the power a few simple words such as ‘I believe in you’ can have in the life of a student.  Many of our kids don’t hear that enough or at all!


Podcasts in education

The morning sessions kicked off with a plethora of awesome topics.  I learned about podcasting and ways to use it in the classroom during my first session from Chris Nesi and Stacey Lindes.  I really need to take the time to learn more about podcasting and just dive into it.


Learning about digital badges for PD

From there, I went to a session titled Leveling Up Your EdTech Learning with Michael Mitchell and Kevin Sochacki.  I love the idea of digital badges as a way to encourage and recognize professional learning by educators, and this session went beyond just awarding badges to recognize different levels of achievement and implementation of skills learned.


Rebecca talking Makerspaces

Third session was easy for me to choose, Making More Makers: Infusing Creativity and Technology Through Makerspaces with Rebecca McLelland-Crawley.  I can never have too much info about makerspaces and STEM, and Bec is a fantastic resource!


Talking about classroom design and learning spaces.


#CoffeeEduNJ get together

After lunch, we moved from formal sessions to an unconference model where attendees proposed sessions on topics they were interested in.  I spent some time in Bec’s makerspace, and then hosted a session on classroom design and learning spaces.  We had a wonderful session talking about ways to make our learning spaces more student centered and friendly.  For the last session, we had a #CoffeeEduNJ get together to spread the word about these informal PD events.  We wrapped up the day with a delicious dinner and networking time before heading to our hotel with our brains overloaded with information.


An amazing group of educators giving up their weekend to learn!


Learning about connected leadership.

Day two began with breakfast and a keynote by Joyce Valenza on gender issues in education.  Then it was off to another round of fantastic sessions.  I started off with Growing a Leadership Team of Connected Educators in a School and District with Daniel Alston & William O. George III, and was amazed at how they have really built a connected culture for their school district – not just educators, but with parents and students as well!

The second session was my turn to present, and I have never talked so much and so fast in my life!  I had an hour to share how to use Google Apps for desktop publishing, and for creating digital interactives.  Thank goodness I made a manual ahead of time!  You can access my resources below.


Gemar Mills speaking about how Shabazz school has been transformed.

We wrapped up our day with a truly inspiring keynote by Gemar Mills, the principal who completely revitalized Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, New Jersey.  It’s utterly amazing how horrifying the school was, and how much it has changed.  The passion and drive to accomplish such a task is unbelievable!


The #BFC530 Crew

I finally headed home with my mind spinning, and feeling revitalized and encouraged from spending my weekend with such passionate educators.  We even had a chance to get a group shot of all of the #BFC530 members while we were there.  I spent time with old friends and made a lot of new ones as well.  I cannot wait until the next NJPAECET2!