I am enjoying a long winter break after a rigorous edtech conference. I haven’t seen a classroom in a week, and I feel off. I can’t explain enough how valuable my time at #PETE2017 was to me. I had 4 days, including the preconference, of PD that was on my level, offered me choice, and allowed me time to connect with other educators across the state of PA. These opportunities for personalized professional development are few and far between and well worth the price of admission.
While enjoying my time at PETE&C, I heard 3 very impressive keynotes. All of them were very different, but they had one thing in common. They offered educators ideas to empower them in their classrooms. The first keynote, Dr. Carl Hooker, gave a humor-laced presentation which valued not the tool, but the skills learner need to develop in order to be successful in the future. He shared his insights on how today’s student should be using tech tools to help them develop skills for tomorrow’s workforce. He said that learners should be, “Filling their minds, not filling in bubbles.” He went on to empower educators to take risks, try new things, and offer their students opportunities to connect, move, create, and fail without fear.
“Students don’t take risks, if teachers don’t take risks. Teachers don’t take risks, if leaders don’t take risks.” -Carl Hooker
Every child. Every day. Dr. Mark Edwards was our second keynote of #pete2017. He was a great speaker and he threaded music into his presentation to engage his audience. His unique insights were very appreciated. My favorite quote from Dr. Edwards was, “A classroom without digital resources today is a classroom of yesterday.” He challenges teachers to answer the question how are your learners taking charge of their learning. He admitted that collaborative classrooms have a healthy “hum” to them and that quiet classrooms are just compliant. He encouraged us to allow our students to know their data so they know that they can be successful in their learning.
Finally, #pete2017 was wrapped up Wednesday by an amazing keynote from Dr. Luis Cruz. He was entertaining, engaging, and he began by telling a room filled with educators and administrators that we should never accept, “You’re just a teacher.” Instead he revealed my new favorite job description.
“We are members of a elite team dedicated to the arduous task of saving student lives!” -Dr. Luis Cruz
He also shared that hope is not a strategy. He said to make change we must have action. He humbly shared his experiences and his district’s approach to bringing an impoverished school from failing to flying data. He shared that schools are suffering from the disease of low expectations because our students are not coming to school as “third base kids,” or kids who have parental support and have been learning at home, read to, and supported in their learning. However we are seeing more and more students entering schools who aren’t even dressed to play in the ballpark. He humorously told the audience on the final day of the conference, “Disneyland lied, our schools are where dreams come true.”
There were many great moments at this conference, but I have to say that all three of the keynotes hit the ball out of the park. Educators need to embrace their profession, advocate for their learners, and lead from within. When change comes we need to be willing to dive in and get our hands dirty when the changes coming will empower our learners to take the lead in their own learning. We need to give students our best, b/c we might be the one person who makes a difference for our learners and lifts them up when they need it the most. Most of all we need to lift one another. As educators we need to help each other. We need to support each other. We need to lift one another up. Educators must empower themselves today, tomorrow, and always. We work in the profession that makes all other professions possible. We make a difference in the lives of the students we teach. Lifting them isn’t always an easy task, but it’s why we all got into this profession in the first place. We make a difference, so start lifting your colleagues as well as your learners.