The beginning of this week was a blur of three days of some really powerful learning. I was asked by my district to attend with our district team to the Future Ready Summit in Chicago. We headed out late Sunday night and after the second full day of learning on Tuesday we did not get home until late Tuesday night.
I was supposed to be at TIC in Dubuque Tuesday and Wednesday, but was only able to attend Wednesday. I got up early in the morning and headed to Dubuque. Despite only having one day at TIC I had the most amazing time and once again I am reminded why I love this conference so much.
Anytime I have a blur of learning like I had for three days it takes me a day or two to wrap my mind around it all. After a nice long run Thursday I was able to process my thoughts. Here are some of my main takeaways from my summer learning.
1. Be Prepared – I was asked last minute to attend the Future Ready. I am glad the dates worked out as I was able to go. Being ready, being flexible to doing the work to be prepared for what was to come was essential. Had I come into things blindly and unprepared it would have not been very good. Now, I could have been a bit more prepared but with doing some pre reading I was able to contribute as needed.
2. Be Ready For The Unknown – I was planning on using the days before TIC to rehearse, practice, and finalize my presentations for TIC. With the invite to Future Ready I lost those days. When I arrived at TIC early Wednesday morning I was making a few final touches. While doing this I realized I left my cable to connect my Surface Pro 3 and had a mild panic attack. No problem I told myself I am prepared and converted my slides to Keynote for my Mac. Well, everything converted in a massive mess. I had to redo two slidedecks from scratch in the 45 minutes I had before the keynote. I was shaking, stressed, and not in a good frame of mind. I was able to recreate two decent slidedecks and was able to deliver, but it was not the start to my day that I needed. This is just like teaching and life, sometimes you have to adapt on the fly.
**I later realized in my state of panic that I was a fool. I could have easily used my Mac adapter for my SP3 but for some reason that never crossed my mind.**
3. People at the conferences are not enough! – Once again I attend conferences which I love. The people at the conferences for the most part get it. They understand what is needed for education to change. What we need are those educators who do not go to these conferences, those who do not connect and build a PLN, and those who don’t a see a need for the ideas to be at the conferences. They need to attend so they can learn from others. They need to attend to be reaffirmed that they are doing great things. They need to attend to realize that what they have at their disposal is a blessing. They need to attend to realize what is happening around the state and nation. They need to attend to realize that they can improve.
4. Treatment of Others – One of the reasons I love TIC and it has become one of my favorite conferences is the way the organizers treat people. The whole Keystone AEA just rock it when it comes to bring this upbeat happy vibe. I love talking with Bev Berns because she is always smiling, happy, and excited for the opportunities for education. It is not just Bev, but the entire group who make this conference happen. It is all about delivery and making people feel good. This conference does just that! A key reminder when kicking off a new school year, developing culture in your classsroom, and just working to create positive relationships.
5. Leadership is Everything – My biggest takeaway is how important leadership is when it comes to education. I am talking at all levels from leadership among the teachers, to leadership in TLC, to admin leadership at building levels, to central admin. Without a strong leadership foundation all the amazing ideas are a waste. We must have leadership who makes the tough decisions while still giving flexibility for those working in the district and school(s) to develop their own path. I have stated this many times, but leaders need to clearly define the goals of the district and schools. Then, have faith in your staff to achieve those goals. Let them create the pathways. Let them prove that they are professionals and can get the job done. This also requires leaders to make some thing mandatory. It cannot be wide open, but give some parameters and a framework and collectively let us achieve the goals.
6. Stop with the sit and get – So much of any conference is a long list of apps, tools, tips, tricks, and ideas to implement. What does drive me crazy is how many still want to sit and get. They don’t want to engage. They don’t want to question. They don’t want to share. We must continue to push for more interactive sessions that get people talking and sharing. For example, I ran a Sphero session with Andrew Fenstermaker and it was awesome. All participants were active and willing to participate. It was a great session. The time flew by and because of their willingness to try we had a great Q and A afterwards. On the flipside I had a session where I built in time to share, ask questions, and network and it just did not happen. I accept some of that for maybe my presentation sucked, but we must continue to push our comfort zones and engage in the content and the sessions. It confirmed my belief that I must go back to interactive sessions and not just talk the whole time.
It is time to embrace that ideas that have been going one for some time now. It is time to break free from the past. It is time to transform education where we as professionals connect with kids with where they are and learn to up our game. It is time to quit looking in the past at what was. It is time to prep the students to be problem solvers, networkers, and collaborators. In order to do this we as educators must be able to do the same.
I had three great days of networking, learning, being challenged, and exploring new ideas. I have a whole list of new blog posts that will be coming from these days. This is what summer is about. It is about reigniting ideas, people challenging what you think, and becoming better.
I will be sharing the final slides with a Office Mix recording soon as I was not happy with the last minute conversion effort. They will do for now.