Why Attend #SHAPETampa

We are just weeks away from the biggest conference of the year and I am getting very excited for #SHAPETampa, which will be the fourth time that I have attended the SHAPE America National Convention. I’ll be presenting once, attending some meetings, focusing on the #HealthEd lineup, checking out anything assessment-related….and of course meeting up with as many like-minded educators as possible. So what is it about the National Convention that keep me coming back year after year?

Let me share with you my top 5 reasons for attending the conference in Tampa!

1.Investing In Yourself:  How often do you get to invest in YOU? With all of the other things that pull on your time, the desire to deliver the best lessons to your students, plus the pull of friends, family and other commitments…getting away from it all and surrounding yourself with professional development opportunities is so rewarding. Aside from earning contact hours or CEU credits, how about the location? Tampa. With its mix of historic architecture and modern landmarks, a culture infused with Cuban and Spanish flavors, vibrant business districts and beautiful waterways, Tampa is a wonderful place to visit.

Florida is a strange place: hot, beautiful, ugly. I love it here, and how nothing makes sense but still, somehow, there is a rhythm. Roxanne Gay

How apt that at in Tampa, a city that is represented by teams in three major professional sports leagues, you’ll have the opportunity to take inspiration from the #physed community and become a champion for physical activity/healthy lifestyles in your school. Get ready for a professional development experience that will prepare you to transform your schools. At the 2019 SHAPE America National Convention & Expo you’ll connect and learn from innovative educators and leave inspired by new ideas.

2.Becoming Inspired By New Ideas: I will be presenting a session on how I use Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data to Personalize my Curriculum – you can find the online schedule here.  I hope that my session will be inspirational and encourage teachers to find one or two ways to incorporate local data into their planning and adapt their instruction for the needs of their students. It will be difficult not to be overwhelmed by the amount of inspiration and so the fact that all resources are shared with attendees via the website or awesome app means that you can immerse yourself in the sessions without having to take copious notes. With each thought provoking session being research and evidence based you can’t help but be inspired.

The keynotes this year look amazing!

Wednesday Keynote: I am VERY EXCITED to hear music icon Darryl DMC McDaniels of RUN DMC sharing his honest journey and the transformative power of music on his physical and mental health. I will be sitting front row and center in my Adidas Originals and fresh shell-toe sneakers.

Friday Keynote: I don’t expect a dry eye in the house as the keynote presentation will be by Hillary and Jeff Whittington, creators of the powerful, moving video documenting their five-year-old son Ryland’s transition from girl to boy. Hillary is also the author of the #slowchathealth Book of the Month Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child With No Strings Attached.

3.Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone:  Learning in a new environment is invigorating. It’s almost too easy nowadays to access free professional development by listening to a podcast on a treadmill, or reading a blog post during a planning period at school. Being at a conference and immersing yourself in each session gets you out of that comfort zone and makes the whole experience more enjoyable and easier to remember. This year I intend to see the awesome Scott Williams present DanSirs Across the US: Beats to Move Your Feet! on Thursday 11th at 11:15am. Every time I’m at the same conference as him, there’s always a buzz afterwards about how great his session was.

I also plan on going bell-to-bell each day with Dr. Shrehan Lynch‘s 7:30am Exploring Trauma-Informed Practices From a Social Justice Perspective Friday 12th looking like an inspiring way to start my last full day in Tampa!

Learning in a new space can be daunting and a first time attendee might be blown away by the size of the conference, the number of people, and the immensity of the vendor expo but the experience of a national conference is unforgettable.

4.The Networking Opportunities: Being present, in the same location, with so many passionate educators can not be beat. The buzz and energy in the room is second to none. Without the restriction of 280 characters, or the Voxer app there is nothing better than meeting teachers face to face, hearing their stories and trading ideas. I maintain that the best take aways from a conference don’t come from the scheduled sessions, but from conversations in an elevator, in the Uber to a social event, or grabbing a bite to eat with teachers from across the country. I look forward to meeting and greeting members of my PLN for the first time (especially Christopher Pepper) , many of whom I have communicated and collaborated over the past year, not with a polite handshake, but with a hug. #SHAPETampa will be a great way to develop new relationships and form new friendships.

If you are attending – SPREAD THE WORD!

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Follow the #SHAPETampa hashtag on your favorite social media sites!

5.Improving Your Program: There can be no better opportunity to get ideas, learn skills, and find new ways to motivate and empower your students. Additionally, check out the session from Carly Wright entitled ‘Health & PE Policy Campaign Secrets to Success’ . This session will offer examples of successful policy campaigns and strategies to overcome hurdles in the legislative process. Join Carly to participate in a robust discussion on how to effectively speak to legislators, administrators, and decision makers. You will learn how to identify partners, build a strong grassroots network, and successfully utilize them in your policy work! Teachers of the Year, experienced presenters, and dynamic educators will offer sessions on standards-based instruction and assessments that will help your students develop physical and health literacy skills. Your students have diverse needs and #SHAPETampa will inspire you to try something new with them as soon as you return back to school.

While at the convention, definitely look to check out the Chopped Challenge, a unique opportunity to come together with other educators in a fun way. This interactive and collaborative team-building event is hosted by SHAPE America and presented by co-creators, physical educators Sarah Gietschier-Hartman and Betsey Caldwell.


Join in the #SHAPETampa conversation on Voxer, share convention advice, ask questions, arrange meet-ups ands more.



What do you do once you’ve returned home after an awesome conference? What should you do next to ensure that the post-conference ‘feels’ inspire you to get the most out of your trip? Get yourself prepared in advance by reading my list of 5 things to do during the conference afterglow.

*Versions of this post have appeared annually on this site.

2 thoughts on “Why Attend #SHAPETampa

  1. Michelle Rawcliffe

    I’ll be there! I’m overwhelmed with all of the sessions I would like to attend. I wish districts would allow for release time for things like this. It was a challenge to get administrative support.


    1. Thanks for your comments Michelle. Yes, I know that for many educators gaining approval is difficult/impossible. I know that you’ll have an inspiring time in Tampa. Make sure that your administrators know how much attendance means to you and how it will make an impact in the lives of your students. See you in Tampa!


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