This was just one small part of the experience for me because being at the Bammys was about so much more. It was an opportunity to meet, see and connect with some of the country's most dedicated and passionate educators! I had a chance to interact with Eric Sheninger, Tom Murray, Joe Mazza, Jimmy Casas, Jeff Zoul, Daisy Dyer Duerr, Bill Krawkower, Dana Sirotiak, Dwight Carter, Chris Lehmann, Pernille Ripp, Joyce Valenzia, Erin Klein, Joan Young, Shannon Miller, Amanda Dykes, Adam Bellow, Paula Naugle, Tom Whitby and Kristen Swanson just to name a few (definitely look them up and follow them on Twitter). I am still in awe thinking about it because each of these people has affected my thinking and practice in some way, shape or form over the last two years. Each of these people has helped me become a better Lead Learner and educator. Each of these people have helped keep me fresh and excited about my profession.
Now, did I get to talk shop with every single one of them? No. Did I get to sit one on one with each of them and have a profound conversation about how we could change the landscape of public education? No. But, I did have a chance to share a meal with some of them (thanks for lunch Jeff). I had a chance to share a joke and laughter with many of them (thank you Paula, Daisy, Jimmy, Gwen, Melissa, Tom, Adam, etc.). I had a chance to discuss some of the things I love about being an educator with several of them (thank you Joe, Dwight, Dana, Tom, Bill, etc.). I had a chance to be in their presence and soak up their passion and enthusiasm. For me, the Bammy Award gathering was an incredible boost! A boost of excitement about being an educator. A boost of energy to take that risk and seek the opportunity to innovate even when it's not easy. A boost of knowledge to question the norm and look at things through a different lens. A boost to remind me that our country is filled with incredible educators who have one goal in mind - doing what is in the best interest of children! Educators who are always willing to share and collaborate. Educators who get excited about trying something new in their space. Educators who look beyond the reform movement that is focused on reducing us all to a number. Educators who are proud to be educators.
Over the last couple of days, there have been concerns expressed about the Bammy Awards experience; there has been disappointment expressed over some of the things said during the ceremony; and there has been a lively exchange on Twitter about whether or not awards should be given. I think this is all great stuff because it challenges us to reflect and deliberate - both are opportunities for growth.
Will the whole Bammy experience probably improve over time? My guess is yes (my first two suggestions are to make sure that the teacher categories get recognized during the ceremony and that they get some WiFi up in that place)! Could the ceremony be structured differently? I am sure that could be improved too. Should we be giving out awards? I see both sides of that argument.
In the end, from my humble perspective, I thought the entire Bammy experience was awesome because it wasn't only about the awards (although I am honored to have won one) - it was about being in the same space with some of the most incredible educators in the world. I left Washington D.C. with many new friends, a larger PLN to collaborate with and a renewed excitement for my work as an educator. I got a boost at the Bammys and I hope I can return next year!