I sit here drinking some Thanksgiving Blend Starbucks coffee in the Oakland airport several hours before my flight leaves(traffic was not as bad as when I arrived) reflecting on the achievement of one of my goals I have set out for myself as an educator and leader in modeling how to lead by example.
I was fortunate enough to travel to Manteca Unified School District to help with a day of learning for their teachers and admin. I was so pumped to have the opportunity to connect with a few educators that I know from the MIE program and more importantly to learn from educators in a school district working hard to do what is best for kids.
I always find great pleasure in leaving the midwest to learn what other states and schools are doing to help navigate the waters of education.
For this particular day I had the following presentations.
- Speedgeeking 4.1
- Maker Keynote
- STE(A)M for All Keynote
- Make A Positive Ripple in the Lives of Students Workshop
I won’t even begin to tell you how much time was spent crafting these sessions and keynotes(another post all by itself), but after the countless hours practicing, editing, slicing, and modifying the frameworks I finally had a chance to share my message.
With any keynote one of the primary goals is to inspire. I know we can get caught up in the value of a keynote talk, but I do believe that teachers need a little inspiration to be reminded that this very difficult work they have devoted their life to is worth it and meaningful.
They need to know they matter because they do.
They need to know that the work is worth it because it is.
They need to know that their work is being recognized because it should be.
I also wanted to challenge. I wanted to have them think. I wanted to stretch their thinking and reflect on the work they are doing and how it could be tweaked with a new perspective.
All my talks, sessions, and workshops revolved around four key ideas.
- Perception is our reality – for better or worse
- We are all makers
- We have to believe in our professional instinct to do what is best for kids.
- The small things matter more than we realize and can create the biggest impact.
I want to develop a rally cry for educators to join forces. If educators merged together around the world and stood their ground to demand to do the work and type of teaching that they know works for kids, then the education system would change overnight. It would be such an unstoppable force of positive change.
I know that anything I presented had to be crafted in a way that it was not “one more thing”. Educators do not have time or energy in their already crammed day to do one more thing. I believe that in order to move the needle forward it requires the shuffling of the deck of tools we have gathered over time and using them in new ways. I believe that if we can help educators and students make small calculated moves to try something new then momentum can be gathered and big change will occur.
So often we bite off more than we chew. We go all in on a massive initiative to only watch it sink like the Titanic when everyone realizes it is not sustainable.
This is why I believe in the investment of people instead of systems.
I believe in educators with all my heart and soul.
I believe that they hold the key to truly taking education and schools to the next level.
I believe in students and providing them the space to tinker with their ideas, to develop and wrestle with the learning, and to give them the freedom within constraints to find their own answers.
I always talk about the small things that make a difference. I cannot express how grateful I was for the staff of Manteca for going out of their way to ensure I was taken care of as a speaker. The communication leading up to the event was amazing. They worked hard to provide the materials needed for the workshop. I had my own parking space! I was greeted and made sure I knew where I was going. My great friends from the MIE group took me out to dinner for great conversation. This leads to my gratefulness of the MIE program because without this amazing PLN this opportunity may have never presented itself.
I also have to thank LEGO Education for helping make sure I had enough ducks to empower educators. As the saying goes it takes a village to raise a child……it takes village to empower one another.
As always, I have to thank my family for putting up with me traveling. My wife continues the grind of being a mother, teacher, and spouse at home when I leave. Never easy, but she supports and believes in the work also. Now if only educators were given the opportunity to visit other schools and share their message(another rant for another day!)
I felt at home. I felt like I belonged. It is these types of gestures that keep people working and hard moving forward. The same gestures we need to show educators. The same gestures we need to show students.
Basically, it comes down to the good old Golden Rule. Pretty simple in premise.
Just like in my keynote we don’t need to overcomplicate things. It is just a mixture of GOAT and MTXE.
Until next time, I will continue to reflect and continue the work I am passionate about to continue to help education reach a point where students are jacked to come to school every single day.
Thank MUSD. I am #proudtobemusd
All resources and links from my sessions are here
Teachers kicking butt making LEGO ducks and more during Make Yourself Into a Maker keynote
The amazing MIE Experts gathering and sharing ideas from California to Iowa!
Always a pleasure to share my message of nerdiness of making and learning.