I have blogged and shared my thoughts online like a junkie of thoughts and ideas for years.
I recently returned from the most amazing conference I have attended – Deeper Learning. This 3 day conference at High Tech High in San Diego has left me speechless. I really don’t know where to begin to convey my thoughts and learning.
It is this massive swirl of ideas that I just need to process. The conference lived up to the name as the learning for myself is so deep that I can feel it and understand it within, but to bring it out is going to take time.
For this first post it might be quite random as I try to make sense of the conference and the experience as a whole. I plan on a few posts based on this conference to discuss specific learning and resources.
Before we left for the conference I was super pumped to attend. Anytime I have the opportunity to visit the High Tech High campus I know it will be great. I was lucky enough to have visited this campus three years ago. I was excited to see new projects and a school atmosphere that is so open and engaging.
One of the things that stood out to me was that as soon as I arrived on campus I instantly remembered everything. I could have navigated to my favorite rooms and remembered my entire experience from years before. This lead me to the thought of how many schools have this same impact? Many schools are bland and boring and don’t really have anything that stands out. They are not bad, but not great either. Empty halls, simple paper work on walls, typical display cases, etc. High Tech High is a whole new level. Please check out some of the images in slideshow below for some examples.
As soon as we kicked off the conference we were lead into discussion and conversation. Overall, very little time was spent in a lecture format. Many things were hands on, conversation style, and time to process. It was fantastic. This was the first conference where we were not blasted by boring slides and hours of talking from someone on a stage or in front of a room. I was quickly introduced to some educators from New York and we started sharing out unique perspectives on questions. Questions that provoked deeper thought right away despite still drinking coffee to kick start the day.
The rest of the first day we were moved into a student role in our Deep Dive sessions. I will post details about my room in another post, but the rest of the day was spent diving deep into learning by DOING! I had to build a robot with little experience and many skills to be gained. It was a great reminder of the emotions and thoughts that students go through when learning. This is something that all educators need to be placed in to remember the world of students. We ended the day by presenting our products which was both exciting and nerve wracking.
The rest of the conference was a lot of exploration. Every time I connected with new people I learned that there are so many issues plaguing education, but we are all after the same goal. The 400+ people at this conference were from all over the world and it was interesting to hear about their stories and what they are doing. Some are battling the wars in poverty crime ridden areas, some are building new schools to fight the barriers, some are looking to move from mediocre to great, some are just learning, and some are flat out experts. I honestly felt my school district is doing amazing things. The last day I sent an email to my entire staff titled “BMS Kicks A**”
I am wrapping up some final sessions at a conference dealing with Deeper Learning, Academic Mindset, and PBL and I just wanted to drop a note to let everyone know that we kick butt. I am once again seeing how far ahead we are in just a few years of thinking and working through PBL. Throw up the rock and roll signs and stay the course. We are doing great things and no matter our comfort levels or where we are on our path to increasing our teaching skills I want you all to know that I just want to stand up and tell people that they need to come see our school. Seriously, keep rocking it everyone.
I left the conference pumped up and ready to take action. We have a long way to go and have many things to improve and add to our building and atmosphere of learning, but we are headed in the right direction. Talking with so many educators I realized that none of us have the “answers”, but as long as we continue to learn, challenge, and rethink education we are headed down the right path.
I walked away with some very powerful connections. I met people who are not only incredibly intelligent and experts in their fields, but good people as well. I am ready to take my learning and my action to the next steps and this conference was the platform to move into action.
This conference goes down as one of the best learning experiences I have attended.
Stay tuned for more posts where I will highlight my specific sessions, resources, people who stood out, and what I plan on doing in preparation for next year.