If you’re one of the thousands of educators that have attended an Open Up Resources HIVE Conference, you know it is one of those things you reflect on all year long. With so many memories and moments of connection, it is something you look forward to even as the conference is drawing to a close. It is more than a professional learning (PL) experience, where you learn amazing content knowledge centered around high-quality instructional materials.—the atmosphere is what takes it over the top. HIVE is a place where teachers are valued, cared for, and respected. At HIVE, teachers are the stars.I have been part of HIVE for the past 2 years as a presenter and, to this day, I am still in contact with the friends that I have made from the conference. When I was recently applying for a job in administration and had to gather a portfolio to present for the interview, HIVE friends from across the nation ran to my side with ideas and letters of recommendation.
As a presenter, preparation for HIVE starts well before the time of the event. Everyone on our team is “buzzing” to get every important detail just right. We know time (to the minute) matters, and we want teachers to receive the best, so it is important that we plan far out. At this moment, I am fine tuning and improving the EL Education K–5 Language Arts: Deeper Dive for the Asheville and Kansas City HIVE Conferences this summer.
Once HIVE is here, the anticipation and excitement is so high, I will feel like I am performing at the Grammys. It is time to give OUR educators exactly what they came for: “The best PL of their life.” I have always heard performers talk about the energy of the crowd, and now I totally understand that phrase. The teachers that come to HIVE pack an energy of excellence into their practice that is contagious. They are friendly and kind, and they radiate with joy and energy. As a presenter, it’s easy to get lost in that moment of just realizing, “This is what students deserve from their teachers!” To imagine what it would be like to observe every teacher in the room and know that it would be like visiting the “best class ever” daily! I get addicted to this energy as we share ideas and make lifelong connections.
So, what happens when HIVE is over? To this day, I am still in contact with people I have worked with at HIVE. Some of us share a growing Google Drive folder. That is what communities do: they support, extend compassion, and challenge you to grow. They show up. Open Up Resources has not just created HIVE, they have created a forever ongoing PLC through their annual HIVE Conference and their online social media platforms. They have provided the stage for teachers to accomplish whatever they set out to accomplish. The sky's the limit.
From Participant to Preparer & Presenter
In June 2019, I was afforded the opportunity to attend HIVE 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, during our second year of implementation of Open Up Resources 6–8 Math. I enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate and learn with others across the country who were using the same core curriculum. These in-person sessions were engaging and informative and afforded me the opportunity to network.
In August 2020, as a brand new Open Up Resources 6–8 Math Community Coach, I now had the privilege of planning for HIVE professional learning. My initial thought was, “What supports would we offer teachers and leaders around Open Up Resources 6–8 Math at such a challenging time?” Soon preparation for HIVE 2021 began. As Community Coaches, we began tossing around ideas for sessions and discussed needs based on PLCs and communities. Teacher needs and voices were at the helm of our planning.
During the week of HIVE, Community Coaches led, attended, and participated in sessions each and every day of the week. During our sessions, we instituted brain breaks and added music as participants returned from breakout rooms. The activities, conversations, and camaraderie made the time online fly by. The energy from the HIVE 2021 Conference participants and willingness to take time to learn together was unparalleled.
My friends at work call me a “conference nerd” and I love it! I love the opportunity to learn with others and realize that, as an educator, this is passion. In a Thursday evening Open Up Resources PLC, I heard one of the teachers say, “The HIVE Conference was amazing, and I have incorporated so many ideas from it. That learning opportunity really made a difference for me.” HIVE is a conference for all!