The Spring CUE conference brings educators from all over California (and beyond) to the desert in Palm Springs every year. Over 5,000 teachers, TOSAs, administrators, and other stakeholders, invested in learning how to improve the education and engagement of students, gather to do just that: learn. Of course, they have another equally important motive: connect. Educators know that we are smarter and more powerful when we work and learn together. But there’s a problem with 5,000 people in the desert. How do you get them to connect with each other?
I’ve heard it said the CUE community is like a family. I consider it MY family. The people I have met have become not only friends, but my brothers and sisters. I can reach out to them anytime with problems work-related, but also with news, good or bad of my personal life. They are my tribe, a group of like-minded, innovative and incredibly fun people, whom I love to simply be around. However, looking around the huge conference hall during the opening keynote of this year’s conference and seeing the sea of hands go up of “first-time” attendees, it really got me thinking about how I ended up finding my CUE family. I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t at Spring CUE.
For me, the answer to finding your tribe is not flying to Palm Springs and renting a cute AirBnB. Don’t get me wrong. It’s incredibly worth the learning and fun, but it’s not the way to find your tribe. In fact the answer is in your backyard. Your local affiliate.
Four years ago, I decided to drop in on a CapCUE (Sacramento affiliate) planning meeting for their annual event: Techfest. I saw an invite on Twitter, and decided to stop by. There, brainstorming at a large table, drinking beer and bouncing off ideas, was my future family.
Sitting at a hotel in Palm Springs late one night this past weekend, I looked around at a similar table. At least five of those CapCUErs from that original meetup were hanging there with me. I didn’t find my family sifting through 5,000 educators in three days at a desert conference. I found my CUE family only five miles from my house. These connections have led to meeting other amazing educators that reach far beyond my home, but the core of my tribe started with CapCUE. Of course, I wouldn’t miss connecting and learning with any of them wherever they may be, especially each spring in the southern California desert.