Monday, March 31, 2014

The Power of Stories


Today I was able to attend the Digital Leadership Summit hosted by SAANYS and NYSCATE. My reasons for attending the conference were three-fold. First, I was going to be able to hear Eric Sheninger speak on digital leadership, and get a copy of his book (signed no less). Second, Tony Sinanis, was coming and speaking about community engagement, and well if you've read my blog before, you know how much I admire Tony. Finally, I was going to be able to meet in person for the first time, a great group of people in my PLN.

The Power of the PLN Strikes Again

This evening as I had some time to process the day, and what it all means,  I am once again struck by the power of the PLN. As I look at the pictures, think about the conversations, and the sharing of stories, I am reminded of how richly my life has been blessed by the people I have met as a result of connecting via Twitter. As I sat and looked around the table during the closing panel discussion, it seemed hard to believe that most of the people sitting there I didn't know even a year ago, and yet they have had such a profound impact on my teaching practice and in my confidence to share my own story.    
Sharing stories is powerful because it connects us, it is a method of communication that connects with us on a deeper level, and the engagement that results is real and powerful.

Stories, and the power in telling your story was certainly a theme woven throughout the day, particularly in the sessions that I attended. Here are a few of my key takeaways:

Tony Sinanis on Community Engagement

I love how Tony began his session. He asked the participants to reflect on the following questions:

What is your school story?
Do you explain the how and the why (behind the things you do)?
What do you stand for?
How would kids answer that question? Would it be the same?

I am curious about what our students and their families would say, so I think I am going to ask. How clearly have I communicated by my words, but more importantly by my actions what I value, what I believe to be true about education, learning and community. 

I was also challenged to consider whether I am giving students voice, and the power to think critically about what they are doing everyday, and am I putting the power to share their learning journey, their story into their hands. I was pushed to consider how I could this better.

Eric Sheninger on Digital Leadership

I travelled to New Milford High School in the fall for EdScape, and was extremely impressed by what I saw, the physical space (think modern learning spaces married with the beautiful architectural details of a school built in the late 1920's), the student ambassadors, and of course Eric. Not having had an opportunity while at New Milford to learn more about Eric's story, and the story of New Milford High School, I was really looking forward to hearing his keynote address (and yes, getting my booked signed). What perhaps, struck me the most was Eric's honesty about his own digital leadership journey, his own story, and what can happen when we give up some of our power and control.

Here are a couple of quotes that really stuck with me, "give up control and don't fear failure; trust our kids" and "action over position", and with that action over position I extend that to our entire community of learners.


Last, but not least here is to Tony Sinanis, Eric Sheninger, Lisa Meade, Vicki Day, Peter DeWitt, Patti Siano and new friends Alan Spieldenner and Rich Hughes with much appreciation for the laughs. XO

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