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#CUE17 1/4 First Impressions

As I begin this post, this is a great time to remind myself that this blog is for me and it is for you. I am using Everyday FutureReady to document, record, share and brain dump everything I do, experience, learn and ponder so I have one place to go back and reread. I wish I had done this sooner. This past week I attended CUE's National Conference for the first time. This was an amazing experience as I left with a full brain and a desire to try about 20 new things all at once. I think that this is what the folks at CUE would like to hear.

I better remember to fill out the follow up survey.

As I have before, I took notes in a Google Doc, on my phone's Notes app, on my iPad that is also connected to Drive and Notes and on paper. So I'm kind of all over the place. But now I'm pulling it all into here. My outline has overall #CUE17 impressions, the sessions I attended, connections and my hopes for the future.

CUE Impressions 

#CUE17 is CUE's National conference that takes place every March in Palm Springs. Considering I came for Portland where we are setting records for rainfall, this was a nice location to recharge both my mind and soul. Vitamin D can go a long way when it feels like you last felt the sun in October. My wife and I arrived in Palm Springs late Tuesday so we were able to attend all of the opening activities on Wednesday afternoon. We hit the checked ourselves and our teammates in (our buildings admin team sent 6 teachers to learn) hit the poster sessions and went to the 1st Timers information session (don't go) and mostly got the lay of the land. The 1st timers session made me wonder why their conference was so spread out. This thing is big. So big they have sessions in the Palms Springs Conference Center along with 4 other hotels and a few in the Palm Springs Unified School Districts Administration offices. I heard differing numbers on the attendance. 6000 or 7000. That is a lot of teachers in one area.

As Thursday got going it felt busy but not crowded. There was a Disney type line to see the opening Keynote, Jo Boaler, but we were able to get in a find seats. She was a great kick off speaker. She defined what this learning opportunity was about. Best instructional practices and strategies for all of our learners. She spoke of math mindsets and how we must thing about our own practice and what we are doing to keep kids from convincing themselves they are not good an math. A really great way to get started. We also learned that parking was not as bad as the folks at the first timers session made it out to be. Getting around kept me busy, but not impossible. I did find it comforting to leave sessions 5 or 10 minutes early to make sure I could get to my next session. Rooms were crowded but I did not find myself without a seat or not able to get in. This is not true of all conferences and there is nothing worse than rolling up to a room with an attendant telling you there are 12 people waiting to get in in front of you (See my future notes from ISTE17). Perhaps being so spread out across Palm Springs lessened the crowds.

Lunch could have been a disaster. With either 6 or 7k attendants at CUE restaurants in downtown Palm Springs were maxed out. Same for dinner options. My buddy Chris told me his group wandered from restaurant to restaurant looking for a wait that was less than an hour for a group of 7. Didn't happen. My team and I picked up lunch in Indio at TKD's, Yelps #4 restaurant in the country in 2016 I believe. Brining our lunch along saved us time and we could eat on demand.

George Curous was the highlighted keynote who spoke on Friday morning from 8-9:30. I could not believe that a keynote would speak so long and run out of interesting things to say. George proved me wrong. My only complaint was a CUE volunteer would not let my 11 year old daughter enter the auditorium. Hayden did not have a badge. That became a "really?" moment for her and I. So what I should say is George Courus delivered an very impassioned talk that I did the best I could to listen to on a monitor that lacked good speakers. I could pick up most of the message, but I have a feeling hearing him live might have been a bit more meaningful. I should have told the volunteer that Hayden is the reason we are all here right now. To learn, to be inspired, to apply, and to help grow our learners.

Hayden had a soccer tournament in Las Vegas so she and Heather were leaving at noon to get to Vegas. Otherwise Hayden would probably have preferred to be sleeping in. No offense George.

Overall, CUE was a very powerful learning experience for me. I still feel a buzz that is powering on this blog post and is making my mind swim with new ideas and challenging me to step up my professional practice. I have renewed sense of focus on what I want to do with my staff and students. I feel driven. Sometimes in education when we get in a rut of the same things day in and day out, we need to get out of our bubble and see what else is going on. It helps when there is sun and good company too. I am not sure if I can make it to CUE next year, but I would trade in some of the "usual" professional development opportunities I attend to come back to Palm Springs. You can't just buy the energy I am feeling post CUE. That is driven by the community and culture that CUE has become. And I dig it.

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