A week ago, I had the honor of being invited to the PA Elementary Secondary School Principals Conference 2014 with fellow Digital Principal Daisy Dyer Duerr, @daisydyerduerr. We had the pleasure of leading a couple of talks on digital tools in their Tech Learning Lab, an inspiration @PAESSP President Bill Ziegler, @DrBillZiegler, borrowed from the NASSP Dallas Conference. Daisy and I gave a pres on some essential digital tools for building up and maintaining PLNs [this included showcasing our new favorite – @Voxer!]. Our second session was some ‘Play in the Sandbox Time’ – helping provide some personalized learning talks for any- and everyone on the digital tool of their choice.
It was a great privilege to be a part of this event. The organizers of this event went to great lengths to make sure that there was something there for everyone at every level. I really admire the organization and preparation that went into this event – it facilitated the deep learning opportunities we participated in. Everyone was incredibly helpful and committed to making sure all attendees had a good time and left at a better place than they arrived.
Takeaway #1: The Undeniable Value of Group Learning
I had the benefit of attending some great share sessions from Alan November, Michael Fullan and some local educators. Good presentations always leave crowds hungry for more and shake us up a bit and these sessions did not disappoint! November and Fullan both brought great points about how we are or should be designing learning and teaching and leading our organizations. It was enough to make some people question some [or all] the aspects of their leadership practices. I count myself fortunate to have had an opportunity to share some thoughts with some conference attendees after the talks on what we are doing, what we can do and what we need to do. It was great to compare notes with others on what we learning looks likes in our school and what we want it to look like.
This epitomizes what value of the group learning and conversation. This is why we need to get out of our buildings and attend great learning events like these conferences. Not only to hear from experts, we need to be able to share with others in similar and different roles and experience levels. These conversations help grow us as professionals and help the learning and teaching in each other’s school.
Takeaway #2: Getting Connected/Growing PLNS
The networking and fellowship at #PAESSP14 helped make this experience. The face to face networking here only made the later digital connecting more impactful. Connecting at these events is what makes us grow, finding like minded colleagues and even mentors. But we can also count on extending these relationships to our PLN to continue the discussions and sharing to make a difference in growth. I volunteered to lead the first @PAESSP chat of the year on digital tools later that week. Reconnecting with some of the attendees and connecting with others who didn’t was a great experience.
Takeaway #3: Keep Sharing Those Digital Tools
Our sessions were great! I’d like to thank Daisy for being a great co-presenter [she only mentioned she was taller than me twice! #improvement]. Sharing on the digital tools was a lot of fun for us and we could tell that it was informative for our audience members. The only thing that made this better was our ‘sandbox’ time in the afternoon. We didn’t let the numbers sway us OR limit the tools we shared. We talked Twitter and Hootsuite and Evernote and Voxer and Droid phones and iPhones and other toools and devices. [We even helped a vendor with her social media]
We had lots of questions on different levels – a validating experience that we all have to commit to helping others grow and develop comfort and competence levels with these tools. We can’t take for granted that we all have a certain experience or impact level with different tools. While were able to help some people get started on Twitter, we also helped others who were experienced users get more out of their Twitter practice, including managing multiple accounts.
I’d also like to give @DrBillZiegler credit for implementing these Tech Labs. I was able to meet @ as they were leading a Twitter 101 session! Great guys and great PLN builders!
State conferences like @PAESSP are great connecting and learning opportunities we should enthusiastically embrace. It fills in the learning and practice gaps we may have in our practices and understandings. I saw firsthand the great benefit of being a resource to other learners – being able to share how we use tools in our everyday practice makes helped some attendees realize the work is worthwhile, is doable and is difference making!
Thanks for a great experience @PAESSP!