A Saturday of Learning

I spent the day Saturday at The Edscape Conference at New Milford High School in New Jersey, learning and sharing with about 400 other innovative, energetic educators. To say the experience was thought-provoking would be an understatement. This post is my attempt to wrap my head around my day at Edscape.

Photo Oct 19, 8 55 32 AM

I learned of Edscape at the start of the school year when someone in my PLN mentioned it on Twitter. I was especially interested because the keynote was to be delivered by George Couros, a principal from Canada who I’d recently begun following. It seemed that everything I read on George’s blog spoke to something we’re trying to do here in Mechanicsburg. I was determined to get to Edscape to hear him in person.

He did not disappoint. His keynote had me laughing, crying, and thinking. Here are just a few of the standout quotes:

  • “The change we are in the middle of isn’t minor and it isn’t optional.” ~ Clay Shirky

  • “The biggest change for educators using technology isn’t a skill set, it’s a mindset.”

  • “Asking kids to put their phones away says, ‘I don’t trust you.’”

  • “This is not about technology; it’s about relationships and learning.”

  • “Isolation is now a choice educators make.”

  • “Would you want to spend the whole day learning in your classroom?”

  • “Open your world, open their world.”

It was clear that George loves kids and learning, and that he views technology as a way to make connections and build relationships and give children a way to create and find their voice. What could be more important than that?

There were so many sessions following the keynote, it was hard to choose which ones to attend. I started out trying to be practical…looking at the descriptions for practical things that I could bring back to school and use on Monday. You know what I learned? I’d much rather have conversations about pedagogy and learning and how to inspire people. Learning a new tool can be informative, and I did take quite a few notes about new things to try. But by far, my biggest take-aways were the informal talks with other educators within sessions, between sessions, and in the cafeteria. Sharing our biggest challenges (PD seems to be a constant in that conversation) and hearing about common struggles was affirming. We might not be where we want to be at MASD, but probably the best thing I came away with was a sense that we are on the right track. We have a long way to go, but the path is becoming clearer. I can’t wait to get back to work tomorrow and take the next steps, knowing that if we have questions, I have a whole network of educators from around the world who are just a tweet away. As George said, “this is not about technology; it’s about relationships and learning.” What Edscape reinforced for me, is that goes for the adults as well as the kids.

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