48 Hours after NAG and I finally have some time to decompress and reflect on my travels to Nebraska to learn, share, and connect with the NAG Conference.
This was my first time being in Nebraska except for one day many years back for a concert to see Dave Matthews Band. I can say I honestly loved the place. It was a perfect way to use two personal days.
The conference was full of amazing educators that care. They are dedicated to their classrooms and schools and are working tirelessly to help students in their classes. You can hear the passion in their voice. You can see the commitment in their eyes. It is a great reminder that despite all the negativity constantly being blasted by the press about education and schools there are amazing people doing amazing things. This is true all over the nation, but it was powerful to feel this energy with people whom I have never met before.
The conference started off with a keynote by Ginger Lewman. I have had Ginger on my podcast, read her book, and have been able to call her a friend that has challenged me many times over the years. I am very fortunate to have learned all that I have from her. This was my first time hearing her keynote. I was asked to introduce her and I will admit that of all my sessions and engagements these 10 minutes made the most nervous. I wanted to do her justice. I wanted the day to be kicked off on the right foot.
Ginger nailed the keynote. She did an amazing job sharing ideas and stories that confirmed our ideas while also challenging us in a nonthreatening way. This is hard to do and she made it seem so easy.
My biggest takeaway from all of her ideas that she shared were the following:
Which comes first? Freedom or Responsibility
The concept of a sea squirt and applications to the classroom(so good!)
Makerspaces are not a side dish. They need to be a petri dish.
These were the top three of many notes I took from her that have given me pause to think through ideas I am grappling with in my head.
The rest of the day flew by. I presented three sessions on the first day which you can access everything here.
The Makerspace session was packed and I was not expecting so many awesome people. I thought I overpacked my LEGO supplies, but turns out I was way short which is always a bummer. It is a good problem to have, but I hate it when not everyone gets to experience it the way I want.
What I was most inspired by was that as I challenged the audience to various tasks to model the way of doing things they rocked it! For example, I always have the audience work on sharing their work through this session. Many times only a few people will do it.
Not this time.
If you go back to the Twitter feed for #NAG17 you will see a barrage of LEGO builds. I felt like a proud papa! These people were ready to make change. They were ready to be pushed. Because of this I was challenged right back. We had people building in the hallways and corridors. It was so AWESOME!
By this point I already felt like our goals were accomplished.
Later in the day we did a global session on how to become connected as an educator. Due to a time zone error we had to start right away with a Mystery Skype. This was a risky move because
- I had no time to intro the group, set the stage, or even get them thinking about what it means to be global and why it matters.
- The classroom I was working with had never done a mystery skype before so I was playing with fire that this would all work out well.
And it worked! Just like in the classroom we must always be ready for change and adaptation. The kids in the other location were amazing. Thank you to their teacher Lindy for her dedication. She scrambled to find kids to stay after school to allow this event to happen. It is just one more example of the dedication teachers have to the profession. She was dedicated to allow her kids the teachers in my session a chance to learn together. Complete strangers coming together to do what is right for kids.
My final session was my Speedgeeking which is always a blast to share these ideas.
What I loved about this session is that I always tell people that I am far from the smartest. I encourage people to share their ideas and tips. Rarely do I get people to share. Not this time. I learned a whole host of new tools and tips that I super pumped to start using.
The people of NAG were all about collaboration and sharing. It was just great.
Finally, that night I did some work with parents and by the end of the day I was exhausted.
The second day was just as great. Despite some crazy weather many people still came to learn. They had a day off of school and still were driven to learn. The keynote were two amazing gentlemen from the University, Neal Grandgenett and Elliott Osler. This was a very hands on keynote which was great for a second day.
I was actually doing math!
I scribbled down many notes of my own thoughts that spurred from the keynote and activities. Trust me, these will be future blog posts!
I finished up the morning with two sessions. One on Googlegeeking which once again we had to adapt as the internet went out, but we made it work. Second, I ran a think tank session. I ended up changing up the session the night before based on how much making was already taking place. I switched up gears to do some things different. I was nervous, but I think it worked out well.
In the end I shared my ideas, but more importantly people shared back. I am coming back to my school with new ideas, concepts, and connections that will help our teachers and students. This is what it is all about.
Thank you NAG for a great two days. I feel honored to be part of the conference and hopefully helped others the way they helped me.
Here is a shared Google Album of images I took on my phone and pulled from Twitter. Please feel free to add your own if you were at NAG17
As for the list of tools I learned from others. These will be shared in a new blog post coming later this week.
Thanks for a great two days. Now, I just wait to get my suitcase as I spent all my thinking energy that I left the hotel without it. The joys of travel and brainfarts!