Educon Reflections for my Teachers

(I copy and pasted what I posted in my staff blog for my teachers.)

I have been tossing around an idea for a post to share with you about Educon in Philadelphia since I got back. Rather than continue to try to construct the perfect post I'm just going to purge all my thoughts here however they may come out! Continue at your own risk:) It would be easiest to just copy and paste another principal's thoughts, but I guess that would be cheating. So I will just include a link to a really good blog post about this conference.

This is the first conference I have attended that was about "conversations" and not "sit-n-git." Each session was facilitated as a conversation with group participation. Some went better than others but I could walk away from each session with something. (That is always my goal.) Here are my random thoughts since I can't seem to organize them in any particular fashion:

  • There were students everywhere! The HS that hosted us used student workers for everything. They were greeters, photographers, recorders, twitter monitors, tech help, etc. You name it and the students were running it. They owned the moment.
  • A lot of the educators I follow on Twitter were there but I didn't recognize some from the avatar they have on Twitter. It seemed awkward at first going up to people and saying, "Hey you're @raventech! I'm @mmiller7571" That was weird. But I finally just started introducing myself the best I could.
  • These people were very forward thinkers about technology, education, and learning. My brain hurt because they made really good points and challenged my thinking. Especially @djakes a.k.a David Jakes. Our plane left during his presentation but I read a lot of his conversation online and I have been thinking about "Learning Spaces" ever since. What is a "learning space?" Is it the classroom? Is it a portion of the classroom? Is it the coffee shop? Is it the hallway with our A+ tutors.
  • Jeff Han the creator of the multi-touch screen that you see on CNN was there and I had a conversation with him and had my picture taken with him. He was there to have a discussion about how the multi-touch screen could be used in education. Turns out my answers and solutions were not revolutionary. He had heard them before:)
  • One of the best conversations I had was with a PD facilitator from Atlanta, GA. Angela and I met her at dinner and she gave me some ideas to share with teachers on how to use various tech tools to enhance learning and not distract from it.
  • I may have finally "got it" when it comes to the power of discussion and conversation. How often to I engage my teachers in reflective discussion? How can I model using discussion for learning? How do I create questions to facilitate learning through discussion and keep everyone on task? What questions do I ask and how do I know when to ask the question? These are just a few of the things that this conference stirred up in my way of thinking. I can assure you that when I was a teacher, I didn't allow my students to "discuss" as much as we discussed at Educon. Shame on me:)
  • This was not about how to use SMARTboards in the classroom or podcast or Flipvideo. (These things are great and I really like to do all these things:)) This was about education and student learning. It was about putting student learning FIRST. Then building out from what you want students to know and be able to do.

Below I have embedded a slide show from my pictures. (Please forgive the sideways pictures. I really did try to rotate them:)