Thursday, July 4, 2013

ISTE - where our bodies meet our brains

This is my final post following my experience at ISTE in San Antonio and it is based on my thoughts following Adam Bellow's keynote on the final day.  Adam called his keynote "An invitation to change the world".

  • We make a difference though our actions and our inactions.  I found this an important statement - we have a choice as educators.  If we know something is not working we can either put up with it and change ourselves to fit in with it (inaction), or we can try to change it.  If we don't succeed in changing it then we have another option, to look for a different school that is a better fit for our talents and visions.  One year ago I was finally able to make the change from inaction and putting up with a frustrating situation to action as I moved to a new school.  Now I feel I'm making a difference again.
  • ISTE is where our bodies meet our brains.  I know that for me meeting people face to face that I've connected with online was a valuable experience.  It was interesting too that some people said to me "Wow, you have cut your hair".  This was based on their only knowledge of me being my Twitter picture from 2 years ago which I haven't changed since moving to India.  I guess it could be time for a change!
  • We have become a 24/7 global network.  Every day I learn something new and most of that is through Twitter.  Through the things we have shared as educators we have led the way and made ripples that are causing waves across the educational community.  By being the craftspeople that make it matter, we have shown that technology is not just the icing on the cake (Adam's analogy was that this is the difference between teaching students how to cook, instead of just teaching them how to eat).
  • There is a conflict between the maker movement and the movement towards standardizing education.  We will never get anyone who can think differently, creatively and innovatively if we teach everyone to think the same.  Innovation happens at the intersection of fear and bravery.  Creativity needs to be unleashed - we need to remove the bar and take away the limits so that students can do something that is important to them.  This means we need to give less instructions and more freedom.
  • Education is not a business.  Yet many schools are run as businesses and the people making decisions about what happens in the classroom are those who never enter the classroom.  I recently went to a memorial service - the "founding father" of my old school passed away last month.  Although this man never hired me and I never worked for him, he was extremely kind and supportive of me in my last year at the school and it was good to go and celebrate his life.  Over and over again I heard about the things that he did that were so important for the students and teachers.  It actually was his business, but it was run as a school.  The comment I heard over and over again at the memorial service was that now it is a school being run as a business.  One of the most touching parts of this celebration was a poem, written by the former primary principal.  When she started reading it, I thought it was entitled Ode to Martin.  In fact it was entitled Owed to Martin.  Heads were nodding all around the room as she explained what we all owed to him.
  • Know where to ask for help.  This was a big one for me.  Adam explained that the best place to go for help was your PLN as there are over 200,000 active educators on Twitter.  If you can't talk to your principal and share your ideas, he said, there are plenty of other principals on Twitter that you can talk to and who will support you.  I agree.  It was the network of friends I'd made on Twitter that gave me the advice I needed to change from inactive to active.  It was good to meet so many of them at ISTE and to be able to thank them face to face.
Photo Credit: Billiard Balls by Zacklur, 2009  AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 

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