Reflecting on #TeachBetter19

Jeff GargasBlog, Innovate Better, Lead Better, Lesson Plan Better, Manage Better, Teacherpreneur Better

In This Post:

  • A reflection on the first and very successful #TeachBetter19 conference.
  • Jeff’s personal highlights from putting on this incredible event.

I’ve been seeing all these posts reflecting on the Teach Better Conference, #TeachBetter19. They’ve been enjoyable to read.

No…I have reveled in them. They have reminded me again and again of what we were able to create. It’s allowed me to go back in my mind and relive the moment I stood on stage with Rae and welcomed everyone.

Honestly, these posts, tweets, and podcast reflections have allowed me to actually go back to the moments where I was full of stress and anxiety and see the power of them. And have fun in those moments.

YOU are the reason this conference was a success. YOU are the reason all of this happened. YOU are what BETTER is all about. Click To Tweet

That might sound weird, since we’re now over a week past the conference, but the truth is, I wasn’t really able to enjoy the conference like I wish I could have.

Just gotta get past lunch. Just gotta make sure we can pull that off.

That’s what I kept telling people. Why? Well, because I was legitimately concerned we would A) not have enough food for everyone, or B) not be able to efficiently deliver food to everyone.

I was worried all week, about a lot of things. Much more than just lunch. Then we arrived Thursday to set up and quickly realized we did not have enough chairs. We scrambled, running all around the venue, finding any and every chair we could find, in order to attempt to put enough in the main ballroom so everyone (or at least most) could have a chair.

We still had folks on the floor and standing along the walls.

Fighting the voices in my head.

We had prepped well. And we had communicated like crazy with all our speakers. But now, everyone was getting into town. Everyone was at the networking event, connecting, and hanging out. They were all so excited for this thing to start.

It was finally here! We were all together and it was going to be epic!

“You didn’t plan well enough, Jeff.”
“You didn’t think this through.”
“You sold too many tickets.”
“You bit off more than you can chew.”
“You’ve set us all up for failure.”
“This is most likely going to fall apart.”
“Your speakers are going to feel like they wasted their time and money.”
“Everyone’s going to know you didn’t plan for enough chairs.”
“People are going to be upset about sitting on floors.”
“Everyone’s going to know you messed up.”
“You’re not a teacher, how dare you think you can close out an event for teachers.”
“You’re going to fail.”
“You’re going to fail.”
“You’re going to fail.”

Yep…that’s where my mind was.

That’s what the negative voices in my head were saying over and over again. In fact, Thursday night I was so anxious, so worried, that I couldn’t sleep.

I had a cold wash cloth on my head all night, and at around 3am I seriously (like, seriously) almost asked my wife to take me to the ER because I couldn’t breathe.

I’ve always been pretty good at hiding my insecurities. Putting on a confident face and acting like I’m always calm and collected, like I know what I’m doing. But I have always struggled with anxiety, with a lack of confidence, and with depression. And I’ve always had a tendency to try and take everything and carry it on my shoulders, even when I have an amazing team and support system. It’s gotten gotten better over the years, but an event like this brings it all out in full force.

You would think selling out the first Teach Better Conference would take away those insecurities…but it didn’t.

Until it did.

The moment for me.

It was Saturday night. There were about 30 or so of us still in town, and we were out at the final networking event of the conference. I was leaning against a pool table, talking with someone.

They looked at me and said, “You’ve gotta be proud, man. Do you realize what you’ve done?

Yeah, it went pretty well.

No, don’t do that. Don’t downplay this. This did not go well. This went way better than ‘well.’ You just ruined all the other conferences for all of these people. This feeling, this atmosphere, this experience… this is now what all those other conferences need to live up to. And honestly, I don’t think they can.


That was the moment for me. The moment where I finally allowed myself to sit back and think about what we were able to create. What we created.

Not “we” as the Teach Better Team. “We” as this entire PLN. That includes you. Whether you were there or not, you helped create what occurred in this small town that weekend.

#TeachBetter19 was an amazing event.

Friendships, partnerships, learning, growth. Educators from 23 states around the country came to Northeast Ohio to connect and share, and to be better together for kids.

Some people traveled for an entire day, taking multiple flights and car rides to get there. Others re-organized childcare and days off work to make the trip. For some, attending conferences is a regular thing. For others, this was their first ever. A few of the presenters speak all over the country. Others had never presented outside of their school’s internal meetings.

We had best-selling authors, first time authors, aspiring authors, national speakers, first time speakers, 20+ year veteran teachers, pre-service teachers, superintendents, instructional coaches, principals, consultants, tech specialists, and even high school students attend.

We had sessions on technology, social emotional learning, creating an authentic experience, engaging students, supporting staff, focusing on your own growth, The Grid Method, SBG, leadership, building relationships, and teaching like a PIRATE.

We learned that Kids Deserve It, and we need to open doors so they can run through them. Then, we learned how to Cannonball in. And we learned ways we can Be The One for Kids.

We challenged ourselves to admit our failures, we stood up for our colleagues, and we talked about the hard stuff.

Finally, we agreed not to let the weekend be a waste. We vowed to bring value to others, and committed to hold ourselves accountable to make a change and be better for our students.

We, the Teach Better Team, did not do this. WE did this. YOU did this.

YOU are the reason this conference was a success.
YOU are the reason all of this happened.
YOU are what BETTER is all about.

And for that, WE thank YOU.

I appreciate you.

– Jeff

[scroll down to keep reading]

About Jeff Gargas

Jeff Gargas is the COO and co-founder of the Teach Better Team. Prior to co-founding Teach Better Team, Jeff was the owner of ENI Multimedia, an online marketing firm, where he worked with entrepreneurs and small businesses, assisting them with web design, social media, content marketing, and brand awareness.

Prior to all of this, Jeff was an adjunctive professor at Kent State University and spent 10+ years in the music industry. He has spoken at conferences around the country, and has successfully promoted more than 500 events and launched 7 businesses in a variety of industries.

Jeff is passionate about music, and enjoys spending time with his family as often as possible.