I was so lucky to be excepted to attend TIES 2016 this year. TIES is the most excellent technology focused conference for educators and it's held right here in Minnesota. Every year that I have had the opportunity to attend has planted so many little seeds of creativity, innovation, and spark into my educational practice. I can't wait to share some of my takeaways this year. If nothing else, please follow these great speakers on social media for inspiration.
The first keynote speaker on Monday was Dean Shareski. I'm embarrassed to say that this was the first exposure I have had to this most AMAZING person. Not only did this great speaker bring us a beautiful message, but he also brought us some Canadian humor. I found myself agreeing with his message, maybe even out loud sometimes guessing from the looks I got from my chair neighbors. The main message for me was that we need to keep/bring joy into our classroom. We need to make sure our classroom is a place that you would want to learn in. As educators (and parents), we need to create and foster wonder. Throughout Dean's presentation, I was thinking to myself, "Yah, I do that. Sure, I made that my focus this year... I'm totally click'n with this message." But that is not why I go to conferences. I go to grow.
So here was my goal from this session... Dean talked about the word BUSY. He suggested that when you seem rushed or stressed it's hard to project calm to your classroom (or others really). He suggests deleting the response "I'm busy." This reminds me of a book called, 'A Complaint Free World' by Will Bowen. Bowen suggests that if you don't verbalize your complaints, you will start to loose the stress of some of your problems. Shareski's challenge was a good reminder of this message.
I saw that Bret Domstrand was presenting and had to hit that session. He was presenting on Twitter as professional development and that happens to be a strong area in my professional practice. So I didn't need this session for a Goal... but I did for my Soul. If you read this blog you know that is my criteria for action... if it's not for a Goal, or for my Soul... it's got to go. I attended Bret's session because I know him as @bretdom, one of the facilitators of #mnlead. This is a twitter chat that I attend sometimes at 7 pm CST. It's a great chat and Bret is always positive.
Bret's gift for me to grow came later in conversation in between sessions. When you meet your online #PLN (professional learning network) in person, introduce yourself, shake hands. Our conversation led me to give focus or 'make choices' that best meet the needs of my life. He suggested that sometimes that means a few more hours at work and sometimes that means more time with family. He said, this is not finding balance, it's making choices. Everyone get's to choose for their own life. GREAT conversation Bret. Thank you.
Aaron Athas had a Poster Table on Spheros. This means it's not a traditional session but more of a question/answer environment. TIES does this well. They bring in experts on a tool or a concept and make them available for personal connection. Aaron gave some suggestions for our next big thing... Sphero's in the Art Room. Can't wait to share the outcomes of this experiment.
Lights, Camera, Action: Using Video in the Classroom, was presented by Dean Dahl and Meghan Haselbauer. I loved this team of educators because it really represented a workplace. Dean was so chill and laid back and Meghan was so excitable... both educators were both invested in their students and using video as a tool in the classroom. They talked about how to use video to create a flipped classroom environment but what I was more impressed with was the way they put this tool, videos, in the hands of their students. Kids were able to express their learning by filming themselves. This idea of student filming is a little seed in my brain right now. I have been growing some new ideas of how to play with this idea in my Kindergarten through fifth grade Art Room... It makes me smile to even write that because I know it will develop some exciting opportunities for my students!
Nick Proud visited TIES from Iowa. He is a principal that did a lot of little things that made a big impact in his school! He had my attention when he said you have to paint your picture of your ideal school and he used an image of Bob Ross... I mean come on... you know it's going to be a good session when you see Bob Ross. He and his staff, students, and families developed a goal, they wanted their school to be the #FinestGreatestBest school around. Why not? He took lots of little steps to head in that direction. One of the strongest messages he shared was to 'make it public'. Whatever your goal is, make it public. Allow others to help you stay accountable. Post it on the walls, or share it in a tweet... make it public. And then celebrate. He gave lot's of ways to celebrate the good in a school is doing.
I also like the idea of 'Making Average Feel Awkward'. Yes! That's what we should do. That's what I want for my personal children. Who says, I really was hoping for an average school to send my kids to. Nope. That is not a thing... we all want our kids to go to an extraordinary school. So as an educator, Walk the Walk.
I was hitting a lot of philosophy sessions so I thought it was time for a quick and dirty, give me some new tools, sort of a session. I scored with Mark Garrison presenting on Google Apps 45. It's so great when you can go to a session and get one or two ideas to make life better. I picked up some new tools or applications that I didn't even know I wanted. OK... I know what you are thinking, 'I want to know some more things about Google too". Well, I can give you that and so, so much more. Check out Mark's website.
My head was swimming with ideas and I hadn't even started Day two... so just in case you are overwhelmed with this post, I think I will share Tuesday at TIES in a separate post. Be sure to check out these great follows mentioned above.