Thursday, July 17, 2014

The All-Star Teacher Experience - Day 1

Before I even begin with the pictures and everything, I need to attempt to express my gratitude. I spent all three days in Minneapolis telling those who made this happen - the coordinators from MLB, Target, and People Magazine - that teachers rarely receive so much praise and it's truly humbling. But many professions receive little praise. When's the last time you heaped accolades on your local grocery store's manager, or on your teller at the bank? Why are teachers any different?

It struck me as we were flying home. Put aside what teachers do, the hours we put in, and the emotional weight of this career. The real truth is that teachers are used to hearing the opposite of praise. We are used to receiving blame. We are used to disrespect. We are used to being treated like pawns instead of professionals. We may experience fair treatment from our colleagues and administrators (I know I do), but the general public and politicians tend to look down on teachers.

On this trip, I was treated like a professional. I was treated like I was worthy of the all-star treatment I was receiving. It was moving beyond words. I was constantly on the verge of tears; my emotions were constantly bubbling just beneath the surface. I made sure to snap a few photos of each big event and then stow my phone because I wanted to be as present as possible. (Matt was amazing about taking photos so I could just enjoy myself.) I wanted to just soak it in. Because on the hard days this year when I'm being questioned or treated like my job isn't important, I want to be able to draw on these memories and know that some very important people out there respect and admire teachers. That we are not in this alone.

We make a difference. And every teacher deserves this kind of praise, attention, and kindness. So before I even begin what promises to be an extremely long post, I need to shout out to my fellow teachers whose blogs I follow: Rachel, Heather G., Meg, Heather, and Cori. I thought of you all constantly this weekend, along with my amazing and talented colleagues and teacher friends. You all deserve an experience that makes you feel important for doing the work that you do.



Travel made easy. A car service picked Matt and me up early in the morning and whisked us to the airport; another driver met us in Minneapolis a few hours later to drive us to the hotel. 
The first of many times when I would unashamedly gawk in public. I felt so out of my element.
Check-in was the first time it hit me that this trip was going to be way bigger than I had imagined. The young women from MLB and People who were in charge of the show handed me a box filled with the tickets for the Home Run Derby, the All Star Game, and other events, along with a backpack full of goodies and a stipend.
Tickets inside!
Never before has saying, "I'm one of the teachers" opened so many doors!
In that moment, I had already received more than I had expected in the way of gifts. I mean, I knew I was attending the game, but somehow it hadn't occurred to me that there would be other perks included...I'm not really used to being showered with gifts.

Matt and I had some time before our official welcome, so we went to FanFest. It was fun to tour the convention center and see the trophy room; by the end though, my feet did that weird crampy thing where they turn into claws, and we had to go.
Thinking deeply while waiting in line.
Us with the World Serious Trophy.
The actual women who inspired A League of Their Own!
Back at the room, Matt got me a bucket of ice and I soaked my feet. It was the best thing I could have done, because just a couple hours later I was in heels and ready for the reception.

We met in the lobby and "mingled". (Meaning I stuck to Matt like glue and awkwardly smiled at people because I have no people skills. Luckily, everyone was so friendly and, like runners, teachers have a tendency to bond and become friends very quickly.) Then we walked to the Target Headquarters for our reception.
If you haven't yet, I strongly urge you to visit and read the bios for the other teachers. They are AMAZING people and there was a wonderful mix of teachers from every grade level and every subject area.
The sight that greeted me was the second time I realized that winning this title was a huge deal. The pendants for each team hung on red lockers; our photos and bios hung beside them. Tables of wrapped iPad Minis and lovely blue Tiffany boxes stood to the side. 
The crystal stars we received.
I swore I'd never have an iPad. Thanks, Target, for making a liar of me! (I'm happy to be one in this case haha!)
The room was filled with music from a string quartet and we drifted toward a beautifully laid table filled with all kinds of tidbits.
Florida teachers with one of our amazing Target representatives!
Bullseye is seriously the most perfectly trained dog I have ever encountered.
Here, I finally broke the ice. The thirty of us congratulated each other and I soon realized there were other Florida teachers there. Bullseye the Target dog posed with us; then Cal Ripken Jr. showed up.
All 30 of us with Cal and Bullseye!

This interactive map showed all the teams, and when you clicked on their logo it showed all three finalists. You could read the bio for each one. I quickly found myself!
Target has a goal to raise $1 billion for education by the end of 2015. These giant baseballs are signed by students whose libraries have been made over by Target.

Around this time, speeches began. A representative from each company (MLB, Target, and People) spoke, and each speech left me near tears. They spoke about teachers they remembered who changed their lives; they told us we weren't lucky, that we deserved to be here, and that they had such admiration and respect for us. Cal Ripken was the last to speak on teachers and coaches and how much we impact and change the lives of children.
This man needs no introduction...he is, after all, the original Iron Man!
We finished the night with perfectly sized root beer floats.
After spending some more time meeting everyone and taking photos with Cal (yes, we're on a first name basis now, of course), we walked back to the hotel for some much needed rest. 

If the trip had ended there, it would have been enough. But it was only the first day; we had two more days of surprises in store!

I've decided to cut the post into sections because OMG this is getting long-winded.

Who is a teacher you will always a good way?
Do you stay in touch with your old teachers?



  1. Looks like an amazing time! I look forward to the rest of the recaps.
    I'm a new reader, and am loving your blog so far. :) How did you get the chance to be on this trip? Did people nominate you or something?

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      We teachers were first nominated, then MLB, Target, and People Magazine narrowed it down to three finalists per team. Then, the winner for each team was chosen through a combination of voting by the public and other considerations.

  2. Mrs. Lane - 8th grade advanced Algebra.
    That woman is probably the one person who made math feel normal and that teachers were regular people! She would see us in public and her kids would know our names! And we were a huge school of about 1500 in middle school.
    My sister and I both ended up as math certified thanks to Mrs. Lane.
    Such an amazing experience to have! Congrats again!

    1. I love hearing that you and your sister were inspired to become math certified thanks to a teacher. It's amazing how they can really shape our lives beyond just a single year in their class!

  3. Ali, the whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking how wonderful it is and how much you DESERVE it. I am so proud of you and reading about your experience of being so celebrated for being a teacher actually gives me such a boost of confidence too. There ARE people who treat teachers as professionals. I have to remember this when I am getting screamed at on the phone for why I took a kid's silly bands from him. :) I am so excited to read the rest of your experience.

    1. I'm glad this has given you joy and confidence, too. The reps kept telling us that their goal was for people to watch us on TV and 1) recognize how important teachers are, and 2) want to grow up to become teachers. It's great that 30 of us got to enjoy the star treatment, but obviously there are thousands of teachers out there who deserved it just as much!

    2. But this is YOUR time. I seriously can't wipe my damn smile off my face as I read these re-caps. :)

  4. Oh my gosh what a spectacular event! You look incredibly happy and I am so glad you were able to celebrate what you deserve. Thanks for the shout out as well. :) I can't believe the All Star treatment!!! How cool? I was surprised to see that you wrote you have 'no people skills.' LOL...I picture you being the exact opposite in real life! Congratulations again Ali!!!! You've definitely built a lifetime memory there.

    1. True story: I am incredibly awkward when I first meet people. I never know if I'm coming off as too peppy/annoying, or too quiet/brooding.

  5. I can not wait to read the rest of your recaps!!! You are such an inspiration!!!! Thank you for the shout are such an incredible person!!!!!!! CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

  6. Ali, that beginning part was so beautifully written! Thank you for the shout out!! You are seriously so amazing and an inspiration! I can't wait to read about the rest of your weekend. What an awesome honor.

    1. Thank YOU for taking on a population of kids that so few other teachers feel moved to work with. You have a truly special, loving heart!

  7. Oh my gosh you got to meet Bullseye?!? That is amazing!!! And congratulations on your award, what an honor! I'm in school to become an elementary teacher so this is definitely inspiring!

    1. I had no idea how famous Bullseye was until I saw his face in neon lights on the side of an office building in Minneapolis! He's seriously so nice...and actually a girl lol!

      When do you officially graduate/get certified? I'm glad to meet another teacher-blogger!

  8. Congrats again, Ali!!!! I am so happy for you!

    I haven't stayed in touch with my old middle or high school teachers, but sometimes I look at my old HS website to see who received promotions/changed classes/retired. I stay in touch with some of my favorite professors from undergrad and grad through Facebook :)

    1. I'm friends with a few teachers and professors on facebook, too. At first that seemed weird, but now I'm glad I can easily get in touch because so many of them have retired, so I can't go visit them at the school anymore!