Over the past few days I had the privilege of attending the NYSCATE Annual Conference in Rochester, NY. It was something that I had been looking forward to for quite a while. Conferences like these provide the opportunity to meet face-to-face with many colleagues that I regularly engage with in online spaces, but rarely get to "see." They also provide the occasion to make new connections, forge new professional relationships, and learn about current trends in the application of technology in the education setting. As I sit back and reflect on the learning that happened over those three days, I wonder how many people would be surprised by my take-aways. In short, if you are looking for a list of the 20 best apps for use in the elementary classroom, or the newest tool that promises to change the lives of our students, this isn't that blog.
My personal learning intentions/objectives were different this year. I wasn't as interested in the latest and greatest apps or gadgets (though there were plenty of those to be sure, and I did win a pretty cool gadget from NYSDLC), I was more interested in the processes, the systems, the connections, the thinking and the discussions. Some of the most interesting conversations, and thoughtful discussions took place in the hallways, outside the session rooms on the way to the next session, or over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Conversations about the driving forces in education, the power of connections, the necessity of differentiation in many aspects of education, choosing the appropriate tools for a variety of environments, the skills that we anticipate students will need for an unknown future, and student voice. By the time my head hit the pillow each night, my mind was absolutely buzzing. The processing of these discussions, the information, advice, and suggestions will continue for some time to come. Certainly, as I write this, I find myself being pulled back into the curated content, to revisit and to continue to reflect, and push my thinking. For now, I leave you with the following take-aways, and hope that you will consider adding some of your own in the comments below.
Creativity, Innovation and Purpose
Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, Startup Weekend EDU
Sticking Point -> Know your purpose.
Key Question 1 -> Why did we start doing what we're doing in the first place?
Key Question 2 -> Are my actions aligned to this purpose?
Jason Latimer, http://www.jasonlatimer.com/
Sticking Point 1 -> See beyond the illusion of knowledge.
(We don't know it all. Knowledge is a continuous pursuit of understanding.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The right question changes everything.
(We need to help teach each other, and teach our students about the importance of asking good questions.)
Sticking Point 3 -> Bring back wonder.
(We need to stop thwarting it in our young people, and we need to rediscover it in ourselves.)
Students of Brighton High School
Sticking Point 1 -> Ask, and perhaps more importantly listen to your students.
Sticking Point 2 -> Encourage authentic partnerships with students in your schools and districts.
Sticking Point 3 -> Empower students, and give them decision making power.
Google For Education: Vision and Future
Stephen Fang, Sales Manager Google Apps for Education
Sticking Point 1 -> 10x Thinking. See the video.
Sticking Point 2 -> Find your passion and make things happen.
Sticking Point 3 -> Have the courage to try to do audacious things where you are!
Sticking Point 4 -> Teaching students to use a particular device, app, piece of software isn't going to get us anywhere, they change, and change quickly. The skills (creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, persistence, risk-taking and other soft skills) on the other hand are interchangeable and the skills will always be necessary.
Being a Relevant Educator in the 21st Century
Tom Whitby and Peter M. DeWitt, Connected Educator Book Series by Corwin Press
Sticking Point 1 -> Everyone has a voice.
(This includes students, families and faculty.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The worst advocates for connected education can be connected educators.
(Those who are connected can quickly overwhelm those who are not, we must be mindful, and meet people where they are. Start slow. Toss a stone into the pond and see it ripple.)
Sticking Point 3 -> The collective power of the group.
(We must engage, empower, and inspire all of our stakeholders.)
Moving from Administrator to Lead Learner
Lisa Meade and Victoria Day
Sticking Point 1 -> Excuses hold us back.
(That and fear. But the primary excuse will always be time and the lack of it.)
Sticking Point 2 -> Connections and learning beyond our classrooms, schools, districts, regions.
(We are better together.)
Sticking Point 3 -> "Lead Learners" model and shape the conditions for all to learn. Read Vicki's post on what it means here.
("Lead learner" it is more than just a clever new name. It requires actions that back it up.)
Job Embedded PD
LHRIC Model Schools & Irvington UFSD
Sticking Point 1 -> Good instructional tech coaches are hard to find.
(Hard to find the balance of tech expertise and strong instructional practice.)
Sticking Point 2 -> The right model is job embedded.
(The why is clear, the how requires creativity. This is why getting a comprehensive peer coaching program in place is critical.)
Just a few pics from this year's conference. Be sure to check out #NYSCATE14 for curated content on Twitter, and Course Resources from Schoology