TAGT Annual Conference 2012: Building Connections

As many of you know, aside from writing this blog, I am also employed by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) as moderator for #gtchat on Twitter. As part of my job, this year I attended their Annual Professional Conference and Parents’ Conference in Dallas at the end of November.

What an experience! I have attended state conferences elsewhere, but nothing prepared me for being in the midst of 2,000 educators and parents who actually wanted to learn more about gifted education. Until this point in my life, I had only met a handful of teachers who even remotely cared about gifted kids.

During the 3 day conference, I presented 3 times with mixed results. Did I mention that I had never presented before in my life? Never. Nada. Not even a PowerPoint presentation. Many heartfelt thanks to Lisa Van Gemert of American Mensa for sharing her expertise with me about presenting which saved the day!

Lisa Van Gemert 

It was a memorable experience … there is an undeclared camaraderie ~ a shared experience … among parents of gifted children. There was a sense of relief in the faces of my audiences when they learned that others had experienced the same frustrations and fears they felt. There were {{hugs}} and tears as parents realized they were not alone and shared their stories with me after the presentations.

Twitter Wall

On the last day of the conference, we held a live Twitter chat at the Social Connections Area of the Exhibit Hall. People from all over the world participated in the chat via Twitter. It was extraordinary to watch the two geographically separated groups join together virtually to discuss how they could work together to ‘Build Connections’ within the gifted community globally. Afterwards, we had a Tweet-Up for conference attendees.

I met, listened to and rubbed elbows with some of the most influential people in gifted education today. At one point, I looked out at one of my own presentations to see Carolyn Coil and Lisa Van Gemert sitting in the audience. Awesome! Check out the Conference Program here (.pdf).

Angie French, Stacia Taylor, Jen Martin

Friends that I had met via Twitter were there … Jen Martin, Stacia Taylor, Angie French, David Sebek, Stacy Ledbetter Hughes, Mika Gustavson … all seemed like I’d known them in real life for years! Ian Byrd and Brian Housand were as cool as they are online.

Dr. Lynette Breedlove and J.J. Colburn

And then there was the TAGT staff and Board of Directors. I have NEVER worked with a more committed and professional group of people in my life! This conference was such a success because they.get.gt! Kudos to Executive Director, J.J. Colburn; Assistant Executive Director, Tracy Weinberg; Executive Assistant/Meetings Coordinator, Lisa Varner; Business Development Manager, Keri Kelley;  Member Services Coordinator, Casey Martinez; Past-President of TAGT, Dr. Lynette Breedlove and TAGT President, Marilyn Swanson for all their long hours spent bringing together an incredible conference.

Next year’s TAGT Annual Conference will be held in Houston, Texas, December 4 – 6, 2013. It will include over 100 intensive training sessions in fifteen strands. Hope to see you there!