Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Edscape Journey

I had the honor and privilege to attend my second Edscape conference this weekend.  This conference is the homegrown creation of Eric Sheninger which he puts on at his very own New Milford High School.   The conference offered over 60 breakout sessions featuring many people that I read, follow, and look up to in the field of education.  #Satchat kicked off the morning with a hybrid chat session discussing global leadership that began a full hour and a half before the official conference start. 

It is always a surreal experience to meet, listen to, and learn from someone who you have been reading or following for a longtime.  This was certainly the case with this year’s keynote speaker.  Vicki Davis opened the event with a riveting keynote about the one thing we have control over in education (our own actions).  It was a timely reminder as we often get bogged down with everything that is going wrong and everyone that is doing wrong.  We have the unbelievable power each and every day to change our attitude, actions, and outcomes.  My favorite quote of many from Vicki’s keynote was:

“In education we are not working on making copies…. We are creating originals.”

Following the keynote I had the opportunity to present about leading and learning from connections.  I know that I would not have the opportunities that I have if it was not for being a connected educator.  The opportunity to learn and discuss key issues with people across the globe has certainly pushed me to be a better educator.  I always weave the importance of being connected in presentations but this was the first one designated entirely to the topic.  The smartest person in any room is typically the room itself.  This was certainly the case as the group engaged in a variety of topics and discussed how they were working over, around, and through resistance.

My Edscape journey continued through lunch which was in itself an impromptu breakout session as everyone at the table discussed their work, challenges, and recent successes.  These conversations always leave you feeling like you need to step your game up and do even more.  I attended two additional sessions in the afternoon learning more about the home/school connection from Joe Mazza and about creativity and innovation from ErinPaynter.  Both these sessions were full of ideas and questions to push your thinking.

Edscape proved to be an outstanding day of learning and networking for me.  You have to put Edscape on your calendar for next year.  It will be held on October 19, 2013 at New Milford High School.  I guarantee that you will leave energized with the tools necessary to make a difference and the connections needed to push you to the next level.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Compliance is NOT the Same as Engagement

"First I got their ear and then I had their heart." 
Jay Z

Have you ever heard someone go on and on about how engaging a lesson was?  Invariably, they will talk about how everyone was on task and completed the assignment.  I would argue that often times people are confusing compliance with engagement.

Students for the most part sit where they are supposed to sit and do the work they are assigned to do.  I don't worry as much about a student who acts out in class.  I worry far more about the student who sits passively and complies even though the work lacks any type of relevance.

There is a fairly easy way to not use the terms compliance and engagement interchangeably. You simply ban both words from your vocabulary when providing feedback on a lesson or in reflecting on your own lesson.  Feedback should be both descriptive and nonjudgmental.  Simply saying that everyone is engaged falls short of that criteria for effective feedback.

Your challenge...if you choose to accept it... is to remove the word engagement from your vocabulary when describing what you are seeing in a classroom.  Focus on being descriptive and asking questions that foster growth.