#21CLHK 2016

I attended my first 21st Century Learning Hong Kong Conference two weeks ago (I can’t believe I’ve already been back for over a week!). I attended the Being an EdTech Leader pre-conference with Matt Harris, iPhoneography Walk & Dinner with Cathy Hunt (with the special guest Avinash), Data Driven Dialogues for Coaching with Sarah Fleming, a variety of keynotes and workshops and the Women Leading Change post-conference with Stacy Stephens (the entire reason I attended the conference to begin with).

Since being back, several of my colleagues have asked how the conference was. Reintegration after amazing professional development is difficult for me. People want to know what I learned. I don’t know how to put my experience into a short soundbite. So I just defer to “It was wonderful!” But really it was more than that and more than simply the little tidbits that I picked up. It was way more about the way it made me feel.

Connected

I had the opportunity to ‘meet’ and get to know people that I already felt like I knew. Being connected gives me energy. I was honored to be able to get to know each of these international colleagues on a deeper level.  I know people say Twitter is dying but I hope that whatever comes next allows us to stay connected and create even stronger bonds when we’re thousands of miles apart. Working in international schools can feel isolating. But being connected makes you realize you’re not alone.

Affirmed

Interacting with the people I did and learning about their situations affirmed what we’re doing. We have a lot of great things happening at our school. And I have a lot of great ideas and qualities. I’m not bragging – we all have great ideas and qualities. But part of life (especially professional life) is recognizing how awesome you are. 21CLHK helped me do that.

Of course I had a lot of takeaways and learning experiences. But they all can be boiled down to those two feelings. A HUGE thank you to everyone who had even the slightest impact on my first experience in Hong Kong.

For my own memory and reflection, I Storified both #21CLHK (as much as I could) and #wlead. I also took notes and pictures throughout the conference. These are all resources I’ll come back to later when I need to feel a little more connected, affirmed and inspired 🙂

#21CLHK pt. 1

#21CLHK pt. 2

#wlead

All my notes & pictures (GDrive folder)

Resources from presenters

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#NESASEC 2015

NESA SEC Certificate of Presentation

This spring I had the honor of being selected by our leadership and the NESA Center to present two teacher workshops at the Spring Educators Conference. This conference is near to my heart as it was where I met Scott McLeod & Jayson Richardson in 2013 and decided to pursue my MEd with UKSTL. This year was special because I got to spend professional and personal time with a great group of educators from my school. The time we spent connecting with each other and other attendees was valuable (I got to finally meet Jeremy and Stacy!).

I enjoy the mix of PD experiences at this conference – keynotes, teacher workshops, 4-hour specialist workshops. Plus the location is always a bonus. This year the theme seemed to be all the ‘other’ skills that students need, not content. I was pushed to think about why we do things in the classroom, how research informs instruction and teacher attitudes. It was the first time I had seen Heidi Hayes Jacob, Bena Kallick, Debbie Silver (absolutely hilarious) and Dylan Wiliam…and I learned a lot from them. They’ve made most of their material available on the NESA Center website. One of my favorite sessions was Dylan’s Formative Assessment 4-hour workshop. I appreciated his research-based approach. Because my colleagues couldn’t attend, I took notes for them. Enjoy!

One thing I would like to see going forward at the NESA SEC is facilitated time for connections. I ‘met’ a lot of people virtually while tweeting but didn’t have the opportunity to meet F2F. During morning coffee or lunch, it would be great to have tables set aside for people who would like to meet up with other educators. I found myself sticking to my comfort zone (my colleagues) which was great for this time but would like to have the organized opportunity to meet other people.

Two of my PEAK 2014 sessions were chosen: Harnessing the Power of Google for Collaboration and Creating a Globally Connected Classroom. Teacher workshops have lost of of their importance at the SEC (understandably) so I was excited to have the number of attendees that I did (not zero!). My resources are available on the NESA page.

Abby (who co-presented with me at PEAK) couldn’t make it to Istanbul for our Creating a Globally Connected Classroom presentation. So she joined virtually. It was the second successful virtual presentation of the weekend! It was a wonderful learning experience and just another reason I’m grateful for the power of technology. My mom even got to watch from Michigan 😉 I’m excited to present with Abby again at the CISD Camp Inspire in Michigan in July!

#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.]