2019 Year in Review

2019 calendar

Do you love looking back on what you’ve done, where you’ve been, and think about where you’re going? I do! This is the second year that I’ve done a year in a review, and while they take hours to write, they’re worth it. I hope you agree.


In 2019, I spoke at 53 events in 17 states (highlighted in raspberry below). I went to North Dakota for the first time. Not on the map, but super cool, was a speaking event in British Columbia, Canada. I happened to be speaking there on my Canadian 3rd-great-grandparents’ wedding anniversary (like 104 years or something). They were from Quebec. You think my French would be better, n’est-ce-pas?

I keynoted five state conferences (Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah), which tied 2018 for number of conference keynotes. I will probably never match that again.

In Colorado, I debuted a new keynote (I always debut in Colorado). I poured my heart and sould into that speech, and I literally cannot express in words what it felt like to see and hear the audience rise to its feet in a standing ovation. Jim Delisle later told me, “That was the best keynote I ever heard.” So, now I can die happy.

map of united sta

  I’ve now spoken in all of the states below that are filled in with blue: map of united states with some states filled in   What I’ll keep doing: I’m going to keep speaking at a couple of events a month, but I am going to dial it way back. While I love meeting amazing teachers from all over the country, the constant travel is nowhere near as glamorous as it seems. It makes it really hard to get any other work done.


Ian and I did four Gifted Guild Gatherings this year: Seattle, Denver, Dallas, and Anaheim, CA. Anaheim was our first two-day Gathering, and it was epic.

We launched our book (more below) and absolutely loved being with so many wonderful people for two whole days. I mean, we had a scavenger hunt inside Disneyland. Mic drop.

Here we are grabbing a quick bite to eat near the Millenium Falcon. You don’t do that everyday. Yes, I’m wearing my “Varsity Reading Team” tshirt because reading. photo of Ian Byrd and Lisa Van Gemert If you haven’t been to a Gathering, I highly recommend it. We created the events we wished we’d had to attend, and we spend a lot of time (and $$$) to make sure they’re super duper.

The Books

This year, I published two books. That’s a record. I also wrote my first ever with a co-author. I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of the process, but I will never get used to how honored I feel when people buy the books.

Gifted Guild’s Guide to Depth & Complexity: Finding Your Way Through the Framework

cover of Gifted Guild's Guide to Depth and Complexity

This was the first book Ian & I wrote together (and his first ever, so Go, Ian!).

We had it for attendees at the Anaheim Gathering, and then it just went live for the general public in January 2020.

When we see tweets like this, it just makes our day. I have seriously shown this tweet to at least twenty people.

Funny story about this book: it started as a handout.

We began creating a handout for the Anaheim Gathering, and it kept growing…and growing…and growing…

Pretty soon, we had a 50-page handout. So, that escalated quickly.

We decided to turn it into a real book instead of a freakishly long handout.

We worked and worked, and finally, we holed ourselves up in a cabin near Mt. Rainier with no wifi (Ian literally drove 20 minutes to get a cell signal to call his wife every night) and pounded it out. white-river-washington

This was the view from the cabin’s kitchen table, where we spent a lot of hours typing on computers at opposite ends of the table. When we needed wifi (or a huckleberry shake), we headed to Wapiti Woolies, a cool little shop a few miles down the road.

We’re super proud of the book, and it thrills us to hear feedback like, “It’s a game-changer” (Thanks, Kim Stewart). 

Living Gifted: 52 Tips to Survive and Thrive in Giftedland

cover of Living Gifts

I published Living Gifted in 2019, and I’m so glad that people have liked it. 

Just like the other books, I love tweets about it. Here’s my fave for this one, from awesome teacher Chris Hendricks. 


Perfectionism: A Practical Guide to Managing “Never Good Enough”

cover of Perfectionism

This is my best-selling book so far (although I think the Depth & Complexity will overtake it soon). 

I love it when I see teachers (and parents) putting the ideas in it into practice, like this teacher from superfab Knoxville, TN:


What I’m planning: I have a couple of books being outlined right now, so we’ll have to wait and see which one rises to the top and gets written.


I had a goal to write 52 posts this year, and I did it. I thought the quality may suffer, but it didn’t. I guess what I told my students is actually true: you get better at what you practice.

Super popular posts included:

I did a whole series on group work that was really popular:

Posts that weren’t as popular but deserved some love are:

I’m a little famous for my (fairly mild) rants. These were the most popular from 2019:

I’m amazed at how many people visit the site each year and the places from which they come. Here’s a map of visitors by country:

map of world with visitors came from

What I will be changing: Ian and I met in late November to plan out next year’s Gatherings. When we did, he showed me that my most popular post  of all time is on 21 ideas for how to teach vocabulary. Wait, what?

It made me realize how ignorant I am about my own work. I considered just doing more vocabulary on the site in order to meet the need, but decided against it in favor of another solution (stay tuned!).

I have plans for real renovation of the site, and you’ll be able to tell if I was successful.

Online Training

I’m always so excited when teachers come up and tell me, “I was watching your course on fill-in-the-blank last night! And here you are!” That’s because I have literally dozens of online courses available at gtignite.

What I’ll be doing: I’ll be recording lots more courses for the site, so if you have a request, let me know!


This was a huge year for our family. Our youngest son graduated from college, was commissioned a 2LT in the US Army, and got married.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

bride and groom

One of my favorite pictures from the wedding was this one of my son and my mother, his beloved Nana.

young man and his grandmother

Other highlights:

  • Through the scientific magic of DNA, I was able to determine the identity of my biological grandfather, and I met his daughter, my half-aunt. It was incredible. 
  • I visited Alaska with my husband for the first time. I have never seen anything as wondrous, and it sent me down a rabbit hole of books set in Alaska.
  • I took my daughters-in-law on a girls trip to Miami for a few days. We had a blast on an airboat tour of the Everglades and chillin’ with gators.
  • On my birthday, my eldest son and his wife announced that they’re expecting another baby! And it’s a girl! We’re over the moon excited for the new baby because their first daughter has us wrapped around her (very little) finger.


It’s hard to truly share the depth of the gratitude I feel for you, the visitors to the website, the readers of the books, the listeners to the podcast guest visits, the takers of online courses, the leavers of book reviews, the attendees at events, and every other way you impact my life. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you liked this year in review, you can read last year’s here.

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