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!