Insights & Take-Aways from the 2017 Happy Go Teach Conference


This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Happy Go Teach Conference  in Raleigh, NC.


This conference was created by Jen Jones of Hello Literacy and Kayla Delzer of Top Dog Teaching in efforts to provide a flipped professional development session where best practices are modeled and participants are active in their learning. There is no sit-and-get here!

Want a sneak peek? Watch below!

As you can see, it was a fun-filled day full of learning surprises and camaraderie. From the moment I walked in, I felt loved, appreciated and valued. I mean, just check out this welcome loot!

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Brad Waid was the keynote speaker and left us all inspired to not only learn as much as possible and connect with others as much as possible, but to give all we got to kids as much as possible.


Kayla has a classroom mantra and she shared it with us today. The city backdrop couldn’t be more perfect!


My table became my tribe. We had to stick together throughout the day to complete learning missions.


This activity is great to use in your classroom- all you need is the PicCollage app! IMG_9302

My team and I participated in a STEM challenge. Having a plan before execution was highly suggested by Kayla and Jen, but as much as we knew we had to have a plan prior to building, we were no better than the kiddos and just dove right in to making our roller coaster with four different sized towers! Lots of problem solving, failures and laughing!


Kayla reminded us all that flexible seating has less to do with the furniture and more to do with the mindset in the classroom. (And, did you know she was the brilliant mind behind the flexible seating phenomenon?! I had no idea!) IMG_9320

A monumental portion of HGT was the Edcamp because that is where flipped PD really shined. I learned SO MUCH from all of the educators in the room due to varied experiences and areas of expertise. I tried to use “The Rule of 2 feet” and at least see each session.


You can’t come to HGT and NOT have some fun with friends 🙂


Besides following Jen, Kayla and Brad on social media, go ahead and follow this guy (you can thank me later!):

I can’t give away all of the secrets from HGT because you truly do need to experience this for yourself. However, I will share a few take-aways:

Ask Better Questions and Wait for Better Answers


I had to reflect a lot on this idea. I spend a lot of my time coaching teachers to identify the answers they want from students before they even ask the question so they know what to look for and how to help kids get to the right answer. But, I need to also encourage these teachers to allow unexpected answers to marinate. Often times these fresh ideas can enhance the lesson due to the new perspective. So I know going forward, I need to teach teachers to not just know what answer you expect, but to also welcome innovative ideas from students.

Empower Kids as Problem Solvers


We all know kiddos interrupt us numerous times throughout instruction with their so-called “problems” that really aren’t problems at all. I always used the “Ask 3 Before Me” so students could take their questions to their peers and only if 3 peers couldn’t answer the question were they allowed to ask me. This helped cut down on the interruptions to my small group instruction. I also had a go-to phrase of “solve your problem.” It was a way of passing the ownership baton back to students for them to think through their particular problem (dull pencil, missing assignment, etc.) Eventually students did not come to me with a problem until it was truly something that lacked a solution. What I learned from the graphic above that Kayla had Jen design for her classroom is helping students know the scale to which their concern is a “problem.” It’s a life lesson that all parents will greatly appreciate (and who doesn’t love a good McDonald’s graphic?!). I encourage all teachers to design a scale of problems (ie. missing pencil to bleeding profusely), teach students the protocol and then hold them accountable for acting appropriately.

Its all about Relationships


We all know education is a world of relationships (staff, students and parents), but we are all also people. In life we have to create and honor relationships because we are put on this earth with gifts to bless others with, not just keep to ourselves. The last part of the quote above is so important. It reminded me that the way we communicate with each other determines the success of our relationships and if relationships are the foundation to life and our educational world, then we have got to communicate effectively. Jen’s husband David Jones hooked us up with the DISC assessment to better learn how we communicate and how those we work with communicate so that we can better our relationships. This part of the HGT conference was so impactful!

So, thats a wrap! I had such a fabulous day of learning and friendship. I highly suggest attending a Happy Go Teach conference at a location near you!


Have you attended a HGT conference? If so, share what you learned!

About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.