Teach Your Heart Out Cruise: Recap

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Teach Your Heart Out conference onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, Navigator of the Seas!

Quality time with other teachers, who just GET me...

PD at sea...

What could be better?!

Let me tell you all about it.


We boarded the ship on Friday in Miami. Having arrived early, we were able to spend the afternoon at the pool meeting and hanging out with teachers from all over the country! 

On Friday night, TYHO threw a luau-themed welcome party. We had a great time on the dance floor!


Saturday was reserved for the conference. 

Sessions were divided up by grade level, but not mandated, so that each teacher could choose relevant sessions!

I started the morning with a joint session by Juan Gonzalez and Brittany Root, "Turning Content into an Adventure." They talked about engagement strategies for introducing new topics as well as fun - but rigorous - ways to practice skills in context, like simple "escape" activities.

Next was "Wild About Writing" with Ashlyn Ellsworth from The Creative Classroom. Teaching writing is definitely a weakness of mine, so I appreciated all of her insight! 

After the (all-you-can-eat buffet) lunch break, I got to see Brooke Brown in action talking about integrating STEM with reading and writing. 

Brooke's session gave me tons of ideas about how I can incorporate play into my classroom - even in the midst of test prep emphasis coming down from the top. 

Lastly, I hung out with Eric Crouch and Jed Dearybury - who are hilarious - in their session, "Destroying Writers Block." 

What I loved about each session is that all of the information was innovative, but completely realistic and applicable for my own classroom. I certainly walked away with some great ideas and renewed motivation!


After the sessions on Saturday, we grabbed some chairs by the pool to enjoy some sun before dinner and a show. 

Oh, Sunday. On Sunday, the magic happened. 

We debarked as soon as the gangway opened in Nassau, Bahamas. Hundreds of educators in matching T-shirt carried bags, boxes, and SUITCASES full of school supplies to donate to local students and teachers. 

Once we made it through the port, we hopped on buses - which were VERY well air-conditioned, might I add! - that took us through Nassau to Sandilands Primary School.

First, we spent some time wandering around and exploring the school. I was able to see inside a third grade classroom and the administrative office. Other teachers visited the library and the computer lab.

After some time exploring, we all gathered at the front of the school to donate the school supplies we brought with us.

Casey Bethel's aunt is actually the principal of the school! 

Casey told us that our donations would "leave ripples for generations and generations." Many kids in the neighborhood can't attend school because they can't afford uniforms. He told us that there are parents who do not send their students to school because they don't have the materials they need to learn. 

"For us to be able to do this for this school shows that all of us, all educators, all around the world, are fighting the same fight. We're pouring into lives of the next generation of kids who are going to help make the world a better place." 
- Casey Bethel 


Although school was not currently in session, many teachers came to meet with us. Students were invited to come say hello and pick out some brand new supplies.

The principal, Esther Cartwright, noted that the teachers were wearing matching teal shirts, just like us! Their shirts said, "It takes a big heart to shape little minds." Ms. Cartwright went on to say,

"That's for our little darlings that come to school every day. We try to steer them in the right direction for them to succeed at their schoolwork. We're going to do it one child at a time." 


The conference concluded with a night with Gerry Brooks. He is hysterical and so uplifting. (Gerry, are you hiring?!)

All that being said, if you get the chance to attend a TYHO conference - especially on a cruise ship - DO IT! It was the perfect mix of work and play, and was exactly what my teacher heart needed this summer. I can't wait to do it all over again in 2021! What are you waiting for? 

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