I got to the ASCD Conference in time for the general session on Saturday, March 6. Again, I was grateful that there was a place that served Starbucks in the conference center. One of the participants in the Google Teacher Academy was being honored with an award from ASCD or being a superstar educator. And Geoffrey Canada spoke about his experiences as an educator and leader. All the speakers were engaging, but again, one of the best parts was the ability to share little gems and collaborate simultaneously with other people from the #GTAdmin group, and now, the #ASCD10 group. (This probably goes without saying, but I had not previously been active on Twitter. I had had accounts and not used them, didn’t know what to do with it, but now I got it and loved it.)
After the general session, both my phone and computer were nearly out of battery life, so I hooked them up and started reviewing the previous day’s work. Connie and I were able to connect and we went to grab lunch. We tried two different restaurants with waits of 30+ minutes before acquiescing to Fuddrucker’s. Lunch was wonderful – we chatted, sharing life stories, work stories and fun stories. We bounced ideas back and forth and I actually think I benefitted more from our conversation that she did, but she certainly was gracious and helpful! We then had to part ways when going to our next session, knowing we’d still see each other that night for the GTAdmin Reception.
I decided to attend a ticketed session, advertised as centering on 21st Century innovation and leadership. All of the seats were taken and I ended up sitting on the ground in the back of the room, which was fine as long as I could see the projection…which I couldn’t. Sigh. Ok…so I can stand and hold my laptop and it would be fine as long as I could get wifi and perhaps collaborate with other people who were in the same session or out among the conference…no wifi. Fail. Ok…as long as… … … I couldn’t do it. I was regretful that I couldn’t stay, but how could I get over the lack of wifi in a session designed to discuss 21st Century leadership? I couldn’t and I didn’t. I found myself a comfy spot that had spotty wifi access (but at least there was some) and reviewed the previous day’s agenda and started taking notes on possible ideas for my action plan.
I was making some progress with my ideas, but the next session I was to attend was centered on using cell phones in classroom observations. I was conflicted – my cell phone was out of battery life (I left the power cord at the hotel – didn’t make that mistake again) and I was on a roll with my ideas. Besides, I know that I’ll be more prone to use my laptop in observations than I am my cell phone. The usefulness that I might get out of that one session was difficult to override the benefit of my work with my action plan. So I continued to stay and work and play and work and play.
But I was up and ready to go the next day at 7:00am. I had finally adjusted to the time change by Sunday morning. I went to the gym and took my time getting ready before going to the general session on Sunday. I got to the conference center a little early and a man from NASA struck up a conversation with me about the future of STEM education. He was holding a session on Monday, which I would not be able to attend, but I did get his card and hope to continue having conversations with him.
Don Tapscott (author of Growing Up Digital and Grown Up Digital) was the speaker at the general session this time. And while I think he had a lot of valid points that a lot of people need to hear, I again was reminded of my earlier digression. Without a doubt, Tapscott was engaging and entertaining. But more than any difference in labeled generation or age, our students are pushing us to go in a direction that some educators are unwilling to go. This is not a youth revolt, this is not today’s students saying “go away – you have nothing to offer us”, this is today’s young people saying “Come on! Try this! Share this! Learn this!”; and too many educators are saying, “no”.