Looking at the date of this posting and the topic, I can tell I’ve been busy. This weekend (starting on Friday) was our 2nd MIE Expert US Forum. Microsoft flew 100 MIEs to Denver to connect, laugh, teach, learn, and focus on how we can help our students do more. It has been fantastic.
Admittedly, I was a little grumbly about leaving home and not enjoying my summer and
spending time with family and friends. I had already slipped into a summer routine of exercising, cooking, relaxing, and just reveling in the pause. So to get up at 4:00 on a Friday to start my weekend was met with some (anticipated) grumbles.
Those feelings left as we boarded the plane. I say “we” because I started running into friends who were on the same journey. This community of teachers has become a small family, and it’s invigorating to see them face-to-face (not just on Skype conversations). As we were texting and laughing on the way to the runway, I started to feel that the weekend was going to be good. When I met up with others for lunch (making new friends), walked around Denver, and headed to the opening night party, I knew the weekend was going to be fantastic.
Up early with other Regional Leads to prepare for The Hunt. This activity would take us through Denver, using technology, quick thinking, problem-solving, and sourcing to participate in an Amazing Race style challenge. We did this last year in Pennsylvania and this year at NCCE in Seattle, so I knew what to expect. My team was fun and energetic, and we had a great time exploring the streets.
I also gave an Ignite talk about how the library is like your local TARDIS (thanks to my sister’s encouragement to start watching Dr. Who). The other Ignite presentations from Regional Leads were fantastic to watch and to see what passions they have. It was also good to be uncomfortable and to push myself to try something new.
Our afternoon brought around the learning gallery and learning from all of my peers. I was drawn to the displays surrounding staff development and other models from tech coaches. There are some many creative ideas, all focused on meeting colleagues where they are and helping them to move forward.
Our last learning activity was participating in a BreakOut EDU activity. This was a lot of fun and frustrating at the same time. It did provide me with my own kit, and I can’t wait to take it back to my new team and see how we can use this tool in our district.
Finally, the day ended with our awards ceremony, flash mob practice, and more time to laugh and have fun as a group.
Stony and I started the day by sharing our breakout session on 21st Century Research. I love that we planned this with Twitter, Skype, shared docs, and using the skills that we promote with students. Stony is such a caring and creative librarian, and I was so happy that he wanted to take this challenge on with me. This is a partnership that will continue to produce great things.
Next was my first attempt at doing something in Minecraft. Stephen Reid showcased his students and the amazing, standards-based, creative, imaginative, and academic work they are doing with Minecraft. Before, I had a hard time imagining how students could really use this tool. Now I can’t stop imagining the possibilities.
Our day concluded with panel discussions, motivations from Microsoft leaders, and one last time to connect as teachers.
I was most excited about talking with other tech coaches. One connection created aconversation of anger, frustration, and “what else can I do?” attitude that was concerning to me. I wanted to brainstorm ways to help this person out of the struggle and to find the light at the end of the tunnel, but I didn’t know what to say. Other connections were more encouraging and affirming of the possibilities and my motivations behind going into this adventure.
Micrsosoft’s theme has been to empower our students to do more. I think I will take that to my teachers and admins as how can I help empower them to do more. To help them share their voice as professionals, to help students understand their role in the world, to work in ways that produce great results, and to use the resources we have to do the work we know we need to do.
I think being present is also an important reminder for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “if only we had…” or “someday we will finally be able to…” If that’s my focus, I will miss what I can accomplish with what I have now – and rejoice in what that is. Not that we can’t be future-minded (we have to be!), but not future-dwelling. My readiness and eagerness for my new job is palpable. I will be present in my summer and time with friends and family, so that I can be a better resource for my colleagues this fall.
Thanks Microsoft and all of my MIE family for feeding my teacher-heart this weekend. It is a fantastic PLN – and a darn good group of people.