There was so much that happened and so much that entered my brain during the time I spent in Calgary for the ConnectEd Canada Conference. I arrived back at school and many wanted to know, “So, how was it?”…. A garbled mess ended up coming out highlighted with bursts of “awesome”, “amazing”, “so cool”, “blew my mind”, “wonderful”. My colleagues, I understand, were not able to piece together the transformative experience that I had just gone through. So, I stopped talking about it, mulled it over, read blog posts about it, read the Google Docs and Slide Shares that were created from the sessions here and sat.
Before attending, I honestly had no idea what ConnectEd was all about. My friend Tia Henriksen sent me a link one day and said I should go. It looked like a good time, so I signed up. Even the night before I left, I wasn’t really “in to it”. The weather forecast for Calgary was not good; I am miserable when I am cold, and I hate packing.
Thank goodness I had great travel companions (@TiaHenriksen, @RobynThiessen, @teacherdiana1, @KLirenman and @EMSCarlson) who lifted my spirits. After attending the tweet up that night, I realized quickly that this was NOT going to be a normal conference.
I think the best thing that I experienced at this conference was the connecting (the name ConnectEd Canada is perfect).
- Connecting with the students at Calgary Science School, who were very eager to share and were aware of the kind of learning they were participating in.
- Connecting with the teachers at Calgary Science School, who not only spoke about inquiry and student led learning, but practice it each and everyday in everything they do.
- Connecting with the speakers, who all gathered and led “unconferences” to stimulate and allow the participants to share and teach each other.
- Connecting with teachers and admin. from my OWN district, some whom I have never met before, and excitedly discussing how all of us can go home and influence our students, our schools, and our district.
I wrote about the value of Twitter for educators in my last post. This conference was a perfect example of discussion and face to face meetings stimulated by Twitter.
Then, as quickly as I had been thrown into it, the conference ended and we all headed home.
Coming back from Calgary, I admit, I felt a little let down. I felt like I just test drove a Cadillac and came home to drive an ’88 Ford Escort. However, after three particular district events, the final Engaging Digital Learner Series Dinner, the tweet chat debriefing about ConnectEd on #sd36learn and the Innovative Learning Grant Celebration Day, it hit me that we are a distrct that’s got it going on!
It is often said that sometimes you need to leave to appreciate what you have at home. I truly believe that my district, the Surrey School District, is leading in B.C. for innovative, inquiry based, student led, collaborative, technology integrated education. There are many schools in our district who are on their way, which means we are on OUR way, to changing the face of education.
I recently attended a retirement party and was talking to another teacher who retired a few years ago. She stated that she was very concerned for the future of education and that she was glad that she “got out” when she did. I responded, I hope passionately, by saying that my view was different. I can feel that we are in a great time in education. I can feel the excitiement and the hope. I am so fortunate to be an educator at this time of great change!
Thanks to the ConnectEd Canada Conference and Twitter, I came to realize even more that I am fortunate to be in a school district who supports and encourages us in this movement. I will continue to share and celebrate (particluarly through social media!), to promote this feeling, so people in my district and beyond can see and hear about the great things that are happening right in our own backyard.
So, I will absolutely be at next year’s ConnectEd Canada Conference and everyone, watch out! I will be bringing MORE of my district family with me. We will be exuberant, proud and definitely wearing matching t-shirts!… Now, that’s if we don’t host it next year! ;o)