What do past guests say about maximizing your TNI experience?
Congratulations on your upcoming trip to The National Institute.
Inspiring Power Talks, high-energy collaborative learning, and our famous five-star treatment are headed your way.
Excited yet? We are!
As you prepare to travel to TNI, here’s a list of handpicked tips from Institute veterans to help you optimize every moment of your experience.
1. Make new friends at TNI.
You know that saying about the kid in the candy shop? Well, at TNI, you’re that kid, and the candy is all the people who love math or literacy as much as you do! So, get out there and make some new friends.
Struthers City Schools Special Education Teacher Karen Sloan agrees: “My number one piece of advice would be to branch out and talk with teachers from other districts and other states,” she says. “It's so enlightening to hear how teachers are doing it in other districts that may be similar to yours or completely different than yours.”
“Don't be shy; push outside your comfort zone because you belong at TNI,” agrees Josh Harrison, secondary math coordinator for Spokane Public Schools. “How often do you find yourself in a sea of people who get excited about all the same things you do? ”
2. Be strategic about choosing TNI sessions.
One of the best things about TNI is that you can customize your collaborative learning sessions before you arrive, creating an experience personalized to who and what you teach. And if more than one educator from your school or district is attending TNI, you may want to consider registering for different sessions so you can share what you learned with each other.
“Don’t just attend the same sessions as the besties you came with,” advises Sloan. “Spread the wealth so you can bring back a wide variety of useful info from the sessions, and so you can network and get fresh ideas from people you don’t see every day.”
3. Take care of logistics before you leave.
More info is coming your way, but Uber vouchers are how you’ll get to and from your hotel, so you’ll want to make sure your Uber app is downloaded and up-to-date.
And while you’re updating apps, be on the lookout for an email with instructions on how to download the TNI app. Your unique code will let you check in, register for sessions, view the conference schedule, download materials, and navigate the resort.
When it comes to what to wear, you do you—anything from cutoffs to capes to clogs goes (although we do have a weakness for schools or districts with matching t-shirts). Whatever you bring, layers are a good idea since the resort will be air-conditioned, and outside temperatures will be hot during the day and slightly cooler at night.
Regarding footwear, Kristen Oxley, K-12 curriculum specialist for Kanawha Schools, advises you to pack “comfortable shoes for all the walking you’ll do.” It’s good advice, especially given that no TNI would be complete without a few bouts of dancing.
4. Pictures, or it didn’t happen
“I always use my phone to get photos of the slides I want to remember,” says Oxley. “Then, every evening, I type up a summary of my day so that I can remember it when I return home. I never return with fewer than 15 pages of typed information, and I refer to it throughout the year.”
Take lots of pictures of the fun stuff, too! With your new friends, your old friends, in workshops, by the pool, and at meals. TNI can go by in a blur, and you’ll want these memories later.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #TNI2023 and either #LongLiveMath or #LitForAll. Using these hashtags will enter you into a random drawing to win a prize!
5. Learn from EVERYONE at TNI.
While you’re probably going into TNI expecting to learn tons from the Power Talks and session facilitators, did you know that you can learn just as much from other TNI guests? After all, you’re surrounded by talented, passionate educators who face challenges and triumphs similar to yours.
“Make sure you take the time to meet Carnegie Learning staff, workshop leaders, and colleagues to share concerns and learn new instructional strategies,” advises Helen Son, an 8th-grade math teacher at Brockton Public Schools. “Whether you're a well-weathered teacher like me or a newbie—or something in between—talking to everyone you meet is a great way to recharge!”
“Introduce yourself to everyone at your workshops,” echoes Harrison. “Ask folks what they're learning while you're in the lunch line. Talk math [or literacy] poolside. Share your story and fill your bucket!”
6. Bring the right stuff.
Let’s talk packing. Never anyone’s favorite part of travel, but knowing what to bring and what to leave behind will make your TNI experience even better.
“Don't bring work,” instructs Harrison. “Don't bring books—for fun or learning. Don't bring entertainment. The hotel is always an amazing site. Go explore. Meet people and talk about math [or literacy] with them!”
As far as what you should bring, Harrison also has some opinions on that.
“Bring a journal. You'll want to soak up the TNI vibe and bring it back home with you. Dedicate some time to capturing your thoughts. Reflect on your travel, your classes, your process, what challenges you, the speakers, what you'll try differently next year, and what inspires you.”
7. Pencil in time to relax.
“TNI is a great time to rewind and unwind with some of the greatest minds in education,” says Son.
From the luxurious resort to the fabulous food to the white-glove service, TNI has always been about not just supporting educators by pampering them as well.
Jimmy Wheatley, secondary mathematics coordinator for Indian River School District, says it best: “At TNI, all teachers are treated as they should be: like royalty. They come out relaxed, happy, and appreciated, which is so desperately needed after the last few years.”
“Carnegie Learning treated us like kings and queens,” confirms Holly Cheshire, a math interventionist from Wayne County, WV. “I had such a wonderful experience.”
While there will be a million new things to do and learn at TNI, schedule some time to relax, whether that means a fancy dinner out on the town, an impromptu pool party, or an early morning stroll.
8. After TNI, get ready for a turbo-charged year ahead.
While TNI is magical, the best part for your classroom, school, or district comes afterward when you take everything you learned home with you and energize your colleagues and students.
Just listen to what Jimmy Wheatley says after he brought a whopping 34 teachers to TNI in the summer of 2022.
“Each teacher came back excited, encouraged, and motivated to get back in the classroom with our new curriculum. They were a force to be reckoned with once they reentered the schools, and people who didn’t attend the conference also jumped on board because all that energy was contagious! TNI is by far the best decision I have ever made in my educational career for coaching teachers and has made the largest impact on teacher buy-in and student achievement.”
TNI is everything professional learning should be.
There you have it. Insider knowledge from educators who’ve been there.
Want to hear what other educators have said about their TNI experiences?
Before joining Carnegie Learning’s marketing team in 2021, Emily Anderson spent 16 years teaching middle school, high school, and college English in classrooms throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, and Minnesota. During these years, Emily developed a passion for designing exciting, relatable curricula and developing transformative teaching strategies. She holds master's degrees in English and Women’s Studies and a doctorate in American literature and lives for those classroom moments when students learn something that will forever change them. She loves helping amazing teachers achieve more of these moments in their classrooms.Explore more related to this author
Don't be shy and push outside your comfort zone because you belong at TNI.
Josh Harrison, Secondary Math Coordinator, Spokane Public Schools