Liberty Public Schools hosted it’s first (of many, hopefully) Liberty LEADS Conference this week. It was an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best in the field: George Couros, Scott McLeod, Catlin Tucker, Paul Andersen, and Will Richardson.
George Couros made everyone laugh and some cry. He touched hearts and challenged us with the question, “Are we engaging or disengaging students?” Educators have the opportunity to create classroom/school environments that engage students and empower meaningful learning, which sometimes includes taking a “selfie” with students. I can’t say I haven’t done that! He left me inspired to be more innovative. Education is powerful when students and teachers are engaged, excited, and empowered.
I’ve made it my personal mission to bring George back to LPS for the entire district to hear his message.
Catlin Tucker explained how technology allows for extending learning online. Besides the fact that I instantly became a fan when she played the SNL Weekend Update video The girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party, I connected with the personal learning experiences she shared. What she has learned about her students is authentic: “The beauty in blended learning is on the learning. Active and engaged learning.” I realized that this refers not just to students but also to teachers.
She had great advice for anyone considering moving to a blended learning environment:
- Think BIG. Start small.
- Be patient with yourself.
- Celebrate & learn from mistakes.
- Use technology to replace & improve.
- Weave mediums together.
- Build a PLN to continue learning.
Paul Andersen gets it. Besides being a nice guy, he showed he knows that it’s not one tool that is going to be the answer. He shared very practical ways educators can use edtech.
The key is understanding students, connecting with them, and keeping them at the center of everything we do in the classroom. Both Catlin and Paul made it clear that their goal for using technology is a student-centered classroom, which is exactly what we all should want.
Will Richardson took the conversation to another level. He expressed this is the most disruptive moment ever in education, but also the most amazing time to be a learner. He broke down the narrative of traditional schools and learning, then provided examples to show the difference of modern learning (how students learn outside of school). The reality is that traditional learning is not working: students are less enthused/ engaged by grade level as they move through school. The bottom line: We need “different,” not better.
What’s different? Bold Classrooms. Bold classrooms are:
- Learning Centered
- Inquiry Driven
- Authentic Work
The question becomes, “How do we become more bold in our classrooms and think differently?” It starts with learning.
I’m inspired and ready to get started on the new adventure of the 2014-2015 school year.
**Feel free to access my full conference notes.