I just got back from the most inspirational three days of team building, content development, collaboration, thought leadership and professional growth at the Apple Distinguished Educator’s (ADE) Academy in Houston, Texas.
This being my first event as an ADE, I had no idea what to expect. Even having read the Academy FAQs, I still found myself in uncharted territory.
Here’s what I wish I knew going in:
1. This was no tech conference.
The Academy was easily the most inspiring professional development and networking opportunity I've had in my career. One thing I noticed was how hungry people were for community and meaningful connection. It was less about Apple products and more about real conversations with like-minded educators who want to engage in purposeful work and make a difference.
2. Embrace the experience of total immersion.
No spouses were allowed to attend the event and we were paired up with a roommate. A summer camp vibe quickly materialized as we worked hard and played hard with new friends. I’ve never been one to completely unplug, but answering work emails and tackling any other to-dos felt like my mom calling me in from the playground for dinner. They were unwanted distractions.
3. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
By the end of each day my head was swimming with ideas, but I was too tired to do any meaningful reflection. The experience was like cheesecake, delicious and rich, but you could only consume so much at one sitting. It would have been helpful to take short 15 minute reflection window at the end of each major session to process the information shared and set up an action plan for implementing relevant take-aways.
Now that I’m back home I’ve organized my notes, followed up with contacts, and am rolling up my sleeves for the hard part... Bringing all these new ideas and inspiration to life!