Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Perfect Storm?

    I tend to try to live my life staying out of the peaks and valleys.  Improve gradually.  At least I try.  Don't get too high from the highs, or too low from the lows.
    I've been on quite a high since my Educon trip and I've been trying to keep the momentum.
Maybe it was just the Perfect Storm for me?
    My beautiful wife and are are expecting our third child, there have been plenty of things on my mind lately.  I knew this trip would give me some time to 'get away' and learn.  I did travel down alone and just finding the hotel was an accomplishment for me!  *No laughing Pohanka!*
I knew some people from Twitter and from NECC last year in Washington, DC.  Thus, I had some people to talk to and hang out with (most notably the three headed braintrust of Debra Garcia, Carey Pohanka and Susan Morgan).  Right away on Thursday night we met the incredible Jenny Luca from Australia and Diane Cordell, a retired librarian from New York.  Later on, Jeff O'Hara from Edmodo fame, and his wife arrived after their flight from Chicago.  Educon was off to a great start for me.  Now, I can't list everyone that I met, however, that aspect of meeting people that I talk to through Twitter made this conference even better.  It also helped my confidence, knowing that I've already communicated with many of these people in education.
     The tour and class visits at Educon were eye opening.  At first it just seemed like controlled chaos.  
Kids were up out of their seats, working in groups, allowed to talk out loud.....and as a result, they were teaching and learning from each other.  The one room I walked in, I couldn't even find the teacher!  
     The CoreValues were displayed in every room, and the hallways decorated with student work.  Did you see the math on the 5th floor?  
Picture taken from my cellphone *Next year, remember camera!
     This table and other math trig graphs were just down from some unit in a health class about Sex Ed that may have gotten a few days of ISS at my old schools!  The students and faculty own the building (except for the 4th floor, forgot what was in there, an architectural firm, maybe?).
     I had to take two tours, one with a larger group, then as I was trying to think about all that I saw on my first trip I went to the Library.  There I sat next to Jenny Luca and she wanted to go for a tour, so I went with here and two nice young men, Javon and Hector.  They both asked what we did and then started us off on our tour to the classrooms they thought we'd like.  For me, it was the drama room with Jeff Han showing his 100-inch touch screen tv, and then down to their Calculus class with Mr. Latimer.  They talked about becoming experts in different types of differentiation and then teaching the class!  They also explained how they work together on these projects and even though they honestly grumbled about them, you could see the pride that they had in completing them.
     The next two days were filled with the Conversations that will require more time for me to think through.  
     I will just say this.  
     It was never a main point (I don't think) in any of the Conversations I attended, however, just building relationships with students, came through in all of them.  Caring for your students like they were your own children and giving them a chance to show what they can accomplish when someone believes in them.  It's stuff we talk about at our ISS meetings every Monday morning and it was all rolled into this SLA school, and working well.  It was eye opening to say the least.
     I started by saying "The Perfect Storm" because of the timing with other things in my life, how crazy work has been this year, then having HIGH hopes for this conference.  Those high hopes were exceeded and it was great to go see a school with clear goals and a faculty working together to accomplish those goals.  Follow that up with two days of Conversations with people (who are much smarter than I), and you have a very inspirational weekend.
     I had to leave after lunch on Sunday, however, I was in Binghampton before I knew it.  
     Because I was talking to myself and bouncing ideas from the weekend all over the car!  Time just flew by.  I'm still not clear on everything, but realize how much more there is to learn.  
I'll continue to write some more blog posts, and maybe after a few of these I can start making things more clear.
     Thanks for the patience in advance.  There's more to the weekend from my perspective, maybe the next blog post will be about the Conversations that I went to:  
All three Conversations that I went to on Saturday were by the SLA staff, Team Canada was my only Sunday session.


Technology Coach Z said...

Interesting on how we learn from observation & conversation. We learn more out of school that we do in school. Sounds like you learned much now the trick is to apply before you return to your normal ways. Can't wait to hear more.

diane said...

I've suggested that Chris add a page to the EduCon wiki where people can share their blog postings on the experience.

It was great to read your observations; I'd love to see what others have to say.

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