I’ve been back from the conference since Monday night and was finally able to pull together some ASCD resources for you and really reflect on what I learned. In case you missed it, here are my reflections and session summaries from day one and from the second and third days of the conference.
Reflections and session summaries from other participants
Below are links to conference recaps from other official ASCD press. The list is actually a little longer than what you see below, but I’m only including online publications that have already blogged at least once about the conference. I tried to link directly to the conference post tag (or barring that, a site search for ASCD) when possible–that makes the landing page for some sites not so attractive, but hopefully it will be easier for you to get directly to the content you want. If I’ve missed anyone, my apologies! Please let me know in the comments so I can include your link.
- Steve Anderson, Web 2.0 classroom
- Gerald Aungst, Gerald Aungst
- Tony Baldasaro, Transleadership
Hadley Ferguson, Middle School Matrix
- Jason Flom, Ecology of Education
- Liana Heitin, Education Week
- Mary Beth Hertz, Philly Teacher
- Lyn Hilt, The Principal’s Posts
- Kevin Hogan and Christine Weiser, Tech & Learning
- Larry Jacobs, EduTalk Radio
- Joyce Kasman Valenza (and, virtually, Kathy Ishizuka), School Library Journal
- Diana Laufenberg, Living the Dream
- Dennis Pierce (virtual conference), eSchool News
- Tara Richerson (virtual conference), What It’s Like on the Inside
- Eric Sheninger, Eric Sheninger
- Josh Stumpenhorst, Stump The Teacher
- Laura Varlas, ASCD Inservice
- Tom Whitby, My Island View
- Courtney Williams (and, virtually, Angela Pascopella), District Administration
Great session resources from the conference I saw shared on Twitter
There were some session notes and resources that got retweeted a bunch of times during the conference. I didn’t attend most of the sessions below, but thanks to Twitter, I was able to benefit from them. I hope you will, too:
- Project-based learning
- What I use instead of textbooks for my physics class
- Using cell phones in the classroom
- Grant Wiggin’s session notes
- An amazing reunion between a teacher and her formal principal
- Notes on coaching for teachers (Gawande’s session)
- Session notes from Edcamp Style Professional Development Engages and Empowers Teachers
- Everything you need to know about edcamps
- Making mobile meaningful
- They’re coming from the cloud (Hall Davidson’s session)
- Anytime, anywhere learning (Eric Sheninger’s session)
Conference handouts, slides, and other free resources
A few of the presenters have wikis (these are simple websites in which users can add and modify content, just like on the aptly-named site Wikipedia.) Here are two sessions which had particularly useful wikis:
Many presenters also made their handouts and slides available on the ASCD website. EDITED TO ADD: These are available for those who have registered for the conference. To access them, go to ASCD Edge and create a free account (it takes less than a minute.) You’ll then be able to see every conference resource that’s available for free download. I spent about an hour and half tonight going through all of them! Here are a few I particularly liked (the links go to resources on the presenter’s websites, for those who did not attend the ASCD conference and can’t login to download the session handouts):
- Overcoming Resistance to Rigor (Barbara Blackburn)
- 50 Ways to Leave Your Lecture (Rick Smith)
- How to Talk So Students Will Learn (Adele Farber’s article)
- Finding Each Student’s Sweet Spot (Martha Kaufeldt)
- Making Mobile Meaningful (Hall Davidson)
My big take-ways from the conference
We as educators need more time to think and reflect.
There was so much talk about rigor, thinking deeply about problems and solutions, and allowing for failure, but all of these things take time to do. I was glad to see sessions on instructional coaching, peer mentoring, and teacher-driven professional development (like edcamps) because those are the types of supports we need in order to move our educational system forward. So many districts are analyzing their curriculums right now due to the common core state standards…there’s no better time to rethink what we’re currently doing and how to improve it. I hope to continue seeing teachers and school leaders not just shoving the new standards into the existing (broken) way of doing school, but thinking deeply about what’s best for kids and what they need to be successful in the 21st century.
Our students need time to think and reflect, too.
Nearly every session touched upon the need for our schools to foster creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. These skills aren’t reinforced by our current status quo of drill and kill, compliance-centered school culture. Empowering kids to tap into their passions and interests and apply their skills to authentic real-world problems takes time, more time than we’re used to devoting to these processes. But we’ve got the internet to teach students facts and help them practice rote skills. Our limited and precious time with students is better spent on the human connection. Our role is ultimately to inspire, guide, and connect.
Overcoming the attitude gap is essential.
We all know we need to close the achievement gap. But I was pleased to hear a lot of talk at ASCD12 about closing the attitude gap. That is, we’re finally taking teachers’ perceptions and attitudes seriously in education. For students to succeed, we have to believe they can. We have to have a resilient, positive mindset that believes the difficult is possible, and shows students how to perceive challenges that way, too. When we approach students with the mindset that they WILL succeed, they pick up on our cues. Getting students to “buy into” their learning and see the purpose behind the tasks at hand is critical: the more ownership students have in the classroom, the more likely they are to stay engaged with it and retain it. This requires a shift in our mentality as teachers: we have to be willing to let go of some control and give the kids more opportunities to direct their learning. And of course, that brings us right back to the need for more time for reflection, because we need time to think and plan these tasks/approaches, and students need time to explore them.
Failure is critical for eventual success.
Problem-solving when things don’t work out and overcoming setbacks is an essential part of the learning process. You can’t grow without making mistakes. We’ve got to give kids the opportunity to take risks and make mistakes in a safe learning environment. We also have to give ourselves permission to learn from our experiences and improve over time. There will never be a point when either we or our students have achieved the ideal, but we can always keep learning, sharing, and growing.