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2nd Annual Teacher Summit - Make Learning Magical!

Posted by bengarcia01@gmail.com on September 6, 2018 at 6:05 PM

     What a kick off to the school year! I had the great luck of having a few amazing partners this year who really made the 2nd Annual SOPTV Teacher Summit - Make Learning Magical a huge success. It started with local MSD549c teacher, now tech integration specialist for the district, Tisha Richmond agreeing to co-facilitate the day long learning experience. Her new book, Make Learning Magical, was the subtitle for the summit and also the motor for her amazing keynote. We also got planning help from PBS National Director of Professional Learning and Children's Media & Education, Kerri Balint. The planning started early, a few clammy mornings in April we met via Google Hangouts and started to plot, and by early June we had our sessions pretty much figured out--an Ignite talk, Innovating Inside the Box, etc. So, I will not spend this whole post discussing the adventures we had in planning the summit, but I just wanted to mention it because a few special things happened that lead to "magical" ideas that stuck with me. Ideas worth spreading (wink) that I hope to really dig into with teachers that I work with this school year.

     One, PD for teachers is everywhere on the net, and when I was in the classroom online professional development was scary, overwhelming, and a huge time suck. But, at our summit, I saw something beautiful. An improvisational Ed Chat that happened via Twitter, using our local handle #OrEdChat. Teachers that had never used Twitter (I was sitting in the audience participating) were not only quickly getting a handle of it, but before and after the prescribed questions/answers they were actually browsing Twitter for content that could help them out in the classroom. It was amazing, and because I've always been skeptical of Twitter as a place to find high quality ideas for curriculum and instruction the last thread of skepticism I had was severed. I spent this whole last year having my own personal Twitter Guru, Tisha Richmond, poking and prodding me to explore it more, but I really saw the light at the summit. It wasn't just the discovery of new ideas from Twitter, but also the sharing of novel ideas via an emerging teacher community by local teachers in the room, all happening live, and we had it projected so everyone could see our new PLN at work!

     Two, the session this spontaneous Twitter jubilee happened inside of was called "Innovating Inside the Box." A lot of other great educators out there have graffiti-ed the internet in indelible text about the important theme of being creative within the constraints you find yourself inside of professionally. It has a lot to do with having a growth mindset, and as it relates to the world of education George Couros delved deeply into this topic in The Innovator's Mindset: "My focus, and the 'why' of this book, is developing schools that help individuals embrace the innovator's mindset. When forward-thinking schools encourage today's learners to become creators and leaders, I believe they, in turn, will create a better world. That's my 'why', and it's the way, I believe, we must approach the 'what' and 'how' of our work as educators." Replace "schools" in that excerpt with 'teachers' and this is the point that Tisha and Jamie (co-facilitator of the session) drove home to the educators in the room. Based on the evaluation forms I read later, they really made an impact on teachers in this session. Also, the inspiration in the room during this session was especially palpable, which was a magical thing to be a part of. BTW, Tisha expands on this concept in her book, in a chapter titled "Innovation", so if you get a chance go to www.tisharichmond.com to learn more--she's got a great blog too!

     Three, the "Pirate Guy" was the phrase of the day. A few teachers in the room did not know Dave Burgess' name, but they knew of his work, and we were lucky to have him speak. I wish I would have recorded him, but his moving 40 min motivational speech in essence revolved around a short paragraph in his popular book, Teach like a Pirate: "Seeking greatness, on the other hand, is a journey that can ignite, stoke, and continuously fuel a raging inferno. That journey begins the instant a teacher chooses to shift his or her mindset and says, 'Yes! I want to be great!'" I saw this shifting mindset in the room throughout the day, but it takes leadership initially because not everyone can spark this magic in themselves. I struggle with this, I always have, and my mentors are teachers like Tisha who inspire me and fill me with hope every time they speak--her keynote was all about her journey from near burnout to "raging inferno". Anyhow, along with the teachers who were inspired by the "Pirate Guy" a few weeks ago at the summit, I have been "seeking greatness" my entire career and will be doing it a lot more intentionally this year through my work of supporting local teachers. I will report back in a follow up blog about how various teachers in my area seek greatness?

     Lastly, I'm not sure if anyone reads these blogs, and I'm just as insecure about writing as anyone else, so if you stumbled upon this blog and I said something that caused a twinge of maybe a sort of response inside of you--critical or celebratory--just respond with a short post. It would be fun to have my first exchange on a blog in my short history of blogging. Also, how do you seek greatness?

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