Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wow! What an Experience at The Reform Symposium 2010

It's been a roller-coaster weekend presenting at The Reform Symposium and attending sessions at my first online conference ever! I was honored to present with Lisa Dabbs, a passionate voice in education with so many years and stories of experience to bring to us. If you missed the session, it will be archived sometime this week here on the Reform Symposium site.

Here are a few of the highlights of the experience I would like to share:
  • My PLN ( and I know some don't like that term but it works for me!) is amazing. During the weeks prior to the conference, I got to know Lisa and really enjoyed our time developing our presentation and practicing during Skype calls.  As I was presenting, knowing that there were so many familiar Twitter friends there really made it easier for me to share in such an exciting yet terrifying new environment! You are all wonderfully supportive and I appreciate any feedback you would like to share, whether it's constructive criticism or "ahas" you may have had.
  • We all have unique voices and opportunities to learn each day. I connected with new people in chats during sessions and enjoyed the witty banter and enthusiasm of active learning peers.
  • I learned just how generous educators are. Countless hours were spent by the wonderful organizers, Shelly Terrell, Chris Rogers, Kelly Tenkely, and Jason Bedell to prepare for the conference, organize volunteers, moderate sessions and ensure a successful event. Presenters gave up precious summer time with family to prepare and practice for what was a new experience for many of us presenting with Elluminate.
  •  Great ideas can be age-old truths presented in a new way and applied to solve a problem. During one session I attended, one of the chat room members continuously said,"But, I'm sorry this isn't anything new." Perhaps some of the ideas weren't new, but the application and language that were being described were wonderfully inspiring to many.  Sometimes a presenter has such a passionate voice or authentic example that motivates a participant to make a critical change in practice. 
  • Relationships are even more critical in education than I ever thought before. The most passionate and inspiring presenters talked about and shared the power of developing efficacy among their students. If kids can't trust teachers and administrators, the amazing level of learning that we heard about in Monika Hardy's keynote session cannot happen. Monika's students clearly had a positive, inspiring experience working with her last year.  And speaking of relationships and their impact on schools, George Couros' keynote was another example of the incredible power of a leader who understands the importance of connecting with kids, parents and teachers.  
  • Kids are the most powerful advocates for educational change. The insights and passion for learning that Monika's students demonstrated should be shared with educational leaders everywhere. We need to learn about and use models like Monika's framework to connect with experts around the world and then let kids shout their enthusiasm from the rooftops!
  • Finally, I've had enough of this debate of what word we use for change in education. Whether you like reform, transformation or any other term, the point is that we cannot afford to sit idle while we argue semantics.  It is up to us to be the advocates for our kids so that they get the educational experience they deserve!
Ok, enough about me! What are some of your insights from the conference?  I look forward to reading your thoughts. Thanks again for your support.


  1. Joan,
    Wow is the right word. Thank you for your presentation. I learned things that I need to keep in mind for my student teacher this fall. It has been a few years since I have been a cooperating teacher and I will be sharing your session with her.

    I love how you summarized your #Rscon10 experience.

  2. Thanks so much Paula. Just as I posted this, I saw your post being tweeted. I am thinking of my top 3 tough to narrow it down. I am glad I have connected with you and look forward to learning more about your 4th grade experiences!

  3. I love this:

    "Whether you like reform, transformation or any other term, the point is that we cannot afford to sit idle while we argue semantics. It is up to us to be the advocates for our kids so that they get the educational experience they deserve!"

    You not only hit the nail on the head, but you exude this everyday! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  4. Thanks so much George for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time and admire your work so much as well!

  5. Brilliant post!!! I'm sorry to hear s.o. said 'this is not new.' Often that is the person who doesn't want to learn things deeply. Their loss, but hurtful words are hard to ignore. The conference was amazing.
    - @mmeveilleux (Ingrid)

  6. Joan, this was a fantastic post all about a fantastic weekend! I learned so much during the sessions that I attended, and I can't wait to try out what I learned when I get back to school in September.

    Your presentation was fantastic, and both you and Lisa certainly shared a lot of useful information for new teachers. I have a student teacher in my classroom in September, and like Paula said too, I plan on sharing your presentation with her.

    Thank you for continuing to be so inspiring! Your students are lucky to have such a kind and passionate teacher, and I'm lucky to get to learn from you!


  7. Thank you Ingrid and Aviva for taking the time to comment. The comments about things "not being new" were not from my session, but I felt that it was important to point them out as there are sometimes people who come to sessions looking for a magic new answer when really there will never be that magic answer. It was so wonderful to be able to spend time with so many inspiring and energizing people. Aviva, I have learned so much by reading your blog, listening to you share on Twitter and I feel fortunate to have connected with you. Thanks again to both of you!

  8. Joan, I loved this post. You clearly summarized what #rscon10 was, an amazing learning opportunity! It was great sharing this with my PLN. I'm so glad I "met" you. You're a really inspiring teacher. I always learn so much from you.
    I also loved your New Teacher presentation. I'm definitely going to share it with all my teacher friends. Wish I had seen it when I started teaching!
    I totally agree with you. We're responsible for our students. Quoting Alexandra G Francisco, on her #rscon10 presentation, "We teachers should be the rain that makes our kids to flourish, let's be the rain!"

  9. Joan,
    As usual you have provided me with thoughtful words that help to churn over my thoughts for the weekend. I too think this was a fantastic experience for most who attended and we are luck to have such a supportive, positive community to be a part of, to share with and to build.
    I am more of a talker than a writer, so I want to let you know I read most of your posts here and always pay attention to your twitter feed, thank you for your words.
    As the conference was an action as a result of all the "talking" on educhat I have decided my action will be to supportive of ALL who I work with. I am very tired of the blame game, this year I am going to do everything I can do to affect change I want to see through positive means - not sure I will always be successful - but having positive people like you "around" is going to help! (I am refusing to believe that the teachers in my building do not want to learn).
    Thank you for what you share.
    Sarah @soltauheller

  10. are too much, friend! 4 blogs! I'm so impressed with your ability to share in different voices depending on the content. :)
    I will stick to my one little humble blog...thanks very much. :)
    I have to say my first take away is being asked in the first place to be a presenter for #RSCON10. I was humbled and honored, beyond words.
    The next was seeing the overwhelming support we received for the topic we presented! Our passion is shared and that is so exciting to me.
    Being able to work with you via digital applications still amazes awesome is that!
    Lastly my HUGE take away is the passion, commitment and determination of my PLN who prepared, presented and coordinated this event! Unbelievable! I mean...who does this? For free? No one I know...except hundreds of Twitter PLN that I now have the extreme pleasure of connecting with daily.This is a fire that has been lit...and my prayer is that the flame will continue to burn for decades to come for the biggest bottom line which is future generations!

  11. Great post! I really like your comment on the last bullet in particular. I'm tired of this whole semantics argument all the time. Let's learn how to create and sustain enriching experiences for our students and help them be successful!

  12. Thank you Greta, Sarah, Lisa and Kyle for your comments. It was truly energizing to be among so many committed to education and doing what's best for kids. Lisa, you are so right! Who would have thought that all of these people would come together for a common mission and work so hard..for free. (Well, we would think so but..;) ) Seriously, yes, Kyle, I think it's time we all banded together and stopped arguing semantics. We know lots of the things we can do; we just need to do them and be models for others. Thanks again everyone!

  13. Joan, thank you for this post about the conference. I enjoyed and learned from all of the presentations I was able to attend. I will be sharing with my coworkers and administrators when we return next week and will hopefully find some kindred spirits in my building. Thanks for continuing to be an inspiration!

  14. "Roller-coaster": As a fellow presenter, I can go with that! (I have just about recovered from my nervous exhaustion. I hope you have too.)

  15. Thank you for the comments :-) I appreciate the input, and yes, Phil, I think I have finally recovered as well. The following day I had a massive migraine!

  16. Hi Joan! Thanks for the wonderful passionate post and presenting! The responses in your presentation really touched me. I think the commenter was wrong. For some who had never attended an online conference before (they were many) these were new ideas, new ways of looking at learning, new ways of approaching their upcoming school years! I think for some of us who live on social media that we grumble we heard it before. Really? Who does get to read all the fabulous nuggets! I feel sorry for people who feel the need to grumble nothing is new because then if it's never new they have stopped learning. Great thing about technology and these online conferences is they can easily leave whenever and it doesn't disturb the presenter like in a live conference!

  17. Shelly,
    Thanks for your comment. As always, I appreciate every opportunity I have to work with you. If it wasn't for your inspiration and encouragement when I first started on Twitter, I would have missed out on this enormous learning experience. The comment was not made during our session but another one I attended and it seemed,like you said, that the person just wanted to grumble. The entire conference was absolutely wonderful and captivating. I am catching up on the archives of sessions I missed this week. Thanks again for all of your hard work!

  18. "...we cannot afford to sit idle while we argue semantics." You are spot on. Whether we want reform, transformation, change, or even a metamorphosis, we have to act now. As a new school year approaches for each of us, we need to begin turning our blog posts and tweets into actions. We need to BE what we say we need to DO.

    This change will have to start within each of us. We have to carry this change, this attitude, this outlook into our classrooms and schools and start to make these changes. A lot of the change we talk about will require "buy-in" and support from our staff, admin, and the public. I say start with the parents. Engage them and give them a more active role in the learning of their child.

    You are right, it has to start now. We all should come up with our own battle cry; our own mantra that will motivate us to be better than yesterday, for our students and learning.

    Joan, you are genuine and everything you do and say reflects that. Your positive outlook is contagious, an example to us all.

  19. Joan,

    That was my first time attending an online conference, and it was an amazing experience. And though I am not a K-12 classroom teacher, I still found the information presented to be transferable to newbies in other educational fields. Looking forward to your next one.

  20. Thanks so much Jeremy and Will for taking the time to comment. It means so much to have your input.
    Jeremy, I think that you made some great additions to my point about "acting" instead of "arguing" about what we are going to call this change. Yes, if we start with parents, and also use kids' voices as a way to energize and model active learning, we should get some traction in educational change. Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment.


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