#Learning2 – like no other

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A week ago I was exploring the poster sessions at Learning 2 in Addis Ababa and getting ready for our 2nd MS/HS Tech Leader/Coach cohort meeting. Now that I’m sitting in my office in Kuwait, my trip to Ethiopia seems surreal. Like most people, sometimes my day to day work-life gets boring, old and I forget why I’m doing this. Learning 2 helped me remember what I’m passionate about. Being around like-minded international educators with whom I could discuss burning questions and collaborate was inspiring, energizing and inspiring. Can’t everyday be a Learning 2 day?!

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I arrived early Wednesday morning from Kuwait with 30 hours to spare before the conference began (direct flights only happen a couple times a week). After navigating to my hotel, I headed to the International Community School to meet up with the Learning 2 Leaders. If I hadn’t been alone I might have been brave enough to explore the city but that will have to wait for another trip. My extra time in Addis allowed me to see the behind the scenes of being a L2 Leader…it’s not for the weak! But thus began my love affair with how this conference differed from others – all Leaders arrived 48 hours before the conference started to collaborate and ‘perfect’ their Extended Sessions and L2 Talks. The professional growth and collaboration that the Leaders are exposed to is quite impressive.

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The professional growth and collaboration that ALL participants are exposed to is impressive. From start to finish, this conference was like no other. My biggest takeaways weren’t necessarily what I learned from a speaker or presenter…but the people I met and the conversations I had. Going alone to a conference took me outside my comfort zone – I get my energy from being around people but I’m not the most outgoing in situations where I don’t know people. Fortunately, it felt like I knew people thanks to my PLN. Although I’d never met anyone in person before I was able to hug people when greeting them for the first time because it sure feels like I know them. Twitter and COETAIL have that power.

I originally planned on just attending the conference. For awhile I toyed around with also presenting a 1-hour workshop. In the end I ended up being a Cohort Facilitator. Luckily I didn’t present because I lost my voice on Wednesday and I’m still working to get it back to 100%! No one at Learning 2 knows what I actually sound like…just my gravely, sexy voice ;). The Cohort experience was by far my favorite. We were about 12 tech leaders/coaches from around the world who gather together and asked burning questions. And then we answered them. I would have been happy just sitting in a room all day with my cohort and solving world (education) problems.

I don’t really have many words for the conference. Just wow. Between my cohort, the L2 Talks, the extended sessions (my notes), the unconference discussions (our COETAIL meetup!), the food and the evening activities (read: drinks!) – it was just as epic as I thought it would be. ICS has a gorgeous campus (with tortoises!). It rained just enough to keep me happy but not too wet. The weather was nice and cool (quite a contrast from Kuwait!). The coffee smelled amazing.

Instead of more words from me, check out the #Learning2 InstagramTwitter feeds (they’ll start populating with #L2Asia soon!), the L2Africa Flickr page, the Facebook page, Doug Johnson’s pictures and Jeff Utecht’s latest post. [One picture exists to prove that I was actually there.] I probably tweeted more in the 4 days at Learning 2 than I have all year.

Learning 2 was an experience I’ll always keep with me. If I could, I’d attend every one for the rest of time. Learning2Asia is next weekend…and next year Learning2Europe and Learning2MiddleEast are set to start (keep an eye out for the applications)! Hopefully in the future I’ll even get to attend a Learning2Mars!

[If you want a more personal perspective on my time in Ethiopia, check out my other blog.]

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