First and foremost, after a weekend of thinking and learning, it is the people! It is always the people who make the time at Educon so important. Educon isn’t set up like any other conference. The challenge for those who are presenting is to create “conversations.” It is not to stand at the front of the room and pontificate. The presenters’ job is to get people to talk, to share and learn together. Sometimes it is difficult to get the conversations going, and some questions or initial presentations of ideas are more captivating than others, but overall the connections with other educators are made.
Educon is not for the faint of heart or the passive. Teachers and administrators don’t come to Educon unless they want to grow and develop their practice. It isn’t a place for anyone who simply wants to sit on the sidelines; it is for those who are willing to try new ways of meeting the needs of their students. Most of the people there found Educon through Twitter and came to meet face-to-face with the people they had connected with through dozens or hundreds of tweets.
I led a session, with Wendy Eiteljorg and Philip Cummings on “Being a Risk-Taking Teacher.” The session was filled with teachers who are trying to change the world, one small project and one individual child at a time. They willingly shared their challenges and their successes with each other.We built the session around the ideas in Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison, so everyone who came had to be up and moving around throughout the session. We set up activities that allowed them to think about taking risks while learning new ways to present material in the classroom. The session was before lunch, and the movement helped to stimulate their bodies and minds as well as create a sense of community among the teachers. I will be writing more on these strategies as I use them in the classroom.
Another thought, as I leave SLA exhausted and in many ways, overwhelmed, is that this sort of learning, intense, hour after hour, is what we do to our students every day. We ask them to go from one class to another and give it their all. We want them to care about every subject, deeply and with commitment, 50 minutes at a time. After 2 days of it, I am exhausted. I can’t imagine how they can do it with any level of passion and enthusiasm. As always I believe that change is going to have to happen to schedules first of all. Students need time to design and build, to reflect and integrate new ways of thinking. If we don’t give them that time, the best plans in the world will fall on disheartened and tired minds and hearts.
Time for me to rest now before the start of another week! Thank you to Science Leadership Academy and Chris Lehmann for a wonderful weekend!