About two weeks ago, my principal, another teacher in my building, and I attended the Edscape 2012 Conference at New Milford High School in New Milford, New Jersey. “Edscape is the innovative learning conference designed to transform your teaching and learning practices… Edscape’s goal is to explore how learning environments can be established to promote critical though, inquiry, problem, solving, and creativity.” I heard of the conference through tweets from the high school’s principal, Eric Sheninger (who is known to the education world as “Principal Twitter” or @NMHS_Principal), and through tweets from Vicki Davis (@coolcateacher), the keynote speaker for the event. During the conference, I attended Vicki’s keynote and four different sessions.
I first heard Vicki Davis speak at the 2011 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C). Since that time, I have been following her blog, and I recommended her book – Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time – to my principal. (He is in the process of reading it, and I will soon do the same.) Hopefully, this is a resource that will help to take our school “more global.” During Vicki’s keynote, I did not take notes, but I did occasionally send out a tweet. Here they are, verbatim:
- “What you believe, you receive!” – Davis, in reference to having high expectations for your students
- Love the idea of explicitly teaching collaborative writing!
- “If people mirror you, what will they look like?” – Davis
- “The top 10% in each field read for an hour a day.” – Davis
- “We don’t make copies in our schools, we make originals.” – Davis, in reference to how students should be treated
Along with these ideas, one of the main points from the speech was the suggestion that we (teachers) should be primarily concerned with improving ourselves and not everybody else around use (since we are the only person over whom we have complete control, and changes in ourselves will ultimately affect everyone else). Countless times throughout the keynote, Vicki Davis declared, “Who can I change? ME!”
Along with the keynote, one of the day’s more inspiring sessions came from Joe Mazza, an elementary school principal from Philadelphia, along with Gwen Pescatore, a parent from his school. This was unsurprising, considering this presentation was one of the reasons why I traveled to the conference in the first place. Mazza is someone who I have been following on Twitter. I have become inspired with the ways in which he and his school utilize social media, and my district or school could benefit from adopting some of these ideas. I also made sure that my principal attended this session along with me, as he is the one with the “power” to make these changes happen.
A great deal of the presentation focused on the idea that “Schools must meet parents where they are if they are committed to building and maintaining partnerships.” Before any drastic changes are made, the community must know why these adjustments will occur and how they can get the most out of what is taking place. For example, schools should not assume that parents know how to use Twitter, nor should they assume that these parents possess the technology to do so. Also, throughout the session I was exposed to many resources that I could see myself using in the future: ZippSlip, Remind101, AnyMeeting, Twitterfall, and Ustream. All of these tools can be used in order to enhance communication between the school and home.
Overall, I truly enjoyed my time at Edscape 2012. It is always a pleasure to be surrounded by forward thinking educators who are willing to take risks in order to see their students succeed at the highest level. Also, I know that I can also speak for both my principal and fellow teacher, when I say that they too were inspired by the event.
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