Monday, October 19, 2015

Conference Reflection- What Great Educators Do Differently

Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th, I got to spend time with some great educators- Shelly Brown, Mike Budisch, Laura Day, Brian Klink, Jackie Kohnert, Melissa Krogman, Carey Niemczyk, and Holly Zimmermann.  They are educators from my district, the Merton Community School District, in Merton, WI.  We traveled together to attend the What Great Educators Do Differently conference, the brain child of Jimmy Casas, Todd Whitaker, and Jeff Zoul.  We found that all in attendance seemed to have one thing in common- we want to do all that we can to help our students be successful.  Here are a few highlights from my vantage point.

  • We must hold one another accountable to do what we agree to do for our students.  Thanks, Todd Whitaker, for that reminder.
  • We must encourage our students to create with technology and not just consume with technology.  Thanks, George Couros, for that reminder.
  • We must always find ways to connect with our families and communities to share our school's story.  Thanks, Joe Sanfelippo, for that reminder.
  • Merton staff spending time with Jimmy Casas and Jeff Zoul, two of the conference organizers, after conference hours was amazing.  As one of our staff said to me, normally the conference speakers and organizers present and then disappear.  That didn't happen with Jimmy and Jeff and our staff noticed that.  Thanks, Jimmy and Jeff, for showing such great interest in our staff.
  • Principal leadership is the same no matter where in the United States you might live.  Thanks, Dwight Carter, for that reminder.
  • There is a continued need to improve upon family and community engagement in our schools.  Thanks, Bethany Hill, for that reminder.
  • Student choice and student voice are two important topics that we need to always keep in mind.  Thanks, Shannon Miller, for that reminder.
  • Being connected with others, sharing with others, and supporting one another help all of us become better educators.  Thanks, Amber Teamann, for that reminder.
  • All of our kids matter, and all of us matter, and we need to acknowledge one another every day for our efforts.  Thanks, Angela Maiers, for that reminder.
  • During our travels to and from the conference, and during the times that weren't scheduled learning time, we all learned together.  We shared our thoughts, got connected on twitter (and not just with other Merton staff but with great educators from around the world), and continued our learning with one another and with those we met in person.  Thanks, Merton staff, for showing the dedication and desire to be the best that you can be.
In the next week, the Merton team will be getting back together to share the "one thing" that will be shared with those staff that were unable to attend.  This assignment is meant as a reflection of the two days we spent together, but it can't end with a reflection.  We must find a way to share that one thing and put it into action.  Then we'll know that our time learning together will take us to the next level.  That's what great educators do differently.  They take what they learned and then apply to be better than they were before they left.

Thanks to the Merton Community School District and the Merton School Board for supporting our learning at What Great Educators Do Differently.  Being in the presence of great educators makes us want to be great educators, too.  This conference was a showcase of greatness and a model of what we hope to become.