Notes from #ISTE2016

No kidding. Another #ISTE post!

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EdSpeakers trio at ISTE2016: @edifiedlistener, @ShellTerrell & @Regionalconsult

First, the excitement: I finally got to hug @ShellTerrell, @Sarahdateechur, @CoburnCori, @ShanaVWhite! On top of that I got to hang with @RegionalConsult (Juanita Hines), @mrhooker, James Kapptie as fellow keynoters. Here’s a periscope link of the ISTE Affiliate Keynote Smackdown.

So now that the nerve-wracking portion of my attendance has passed, I can take some time to step back and “observe my observations.”

I brought one book with me on this trip: (Yes, a real hold-in-your-hands, takes-up-space-in-your-carry-on book.) Researching Your Own practice: The Discipline of Noticing by John Mason (Routledge 2002) which was recommended to me by a Maths educator friend on Twitter, @dannytbrown. The author’s premise is that developing professionals, particularly teachers, rests on the understanding that “change is not something you can do to other people but something you do to yourself, following the maxim that ‘I cannot change others, but I can work at changing myself’.”

We have heard this idea expressed before. Yet Mason’s emphasis on the practice of noticing in all of its cognitive and emotional and physiological facets, provides a surprisingly compelling impetus to try the exercises, to test oneself and discover both the challenges and rewards of actively noticing.

So I am at #ISTE2016 and working on noticing.

This morning I sat down to sift through some of the flyers in my bag. There are several from (I’m guessing) the biggest sponsors alerting me to events and presentations supported by their companies in some way. There are some key official ISTE resources – maps, program, contact info. One thing which caught my particular attention was the raffle booklet for various vendor giveaways. Naturally, you fill out a stub with your essential contact info and your name is entered to win some fabulous object or service. This is a common tradeoff.

But leafing through this booklet, I was struck by the language in many of the blurbs referencing the sponsoring product or company.

“Set your teachers free with _____________! … Enjoy the flexibility of presenting lessons anywhere in the classroom and increase personalized learning.”

“The tools you need to be wired, inspired, charged and protected.”

“___________ harnesses the power of technology to empower, inspire and support schools with end-to-end ed-tech solutions.”

“Imagine idea sharing without barriers. Turn classrooms into interactive learning environments with __________. It’s the easiest way to get students connected and sharing ideas from any device. Smarter collaboration starts here.”

“________ helps teachers turn parents into partners by giving parents guidance and actionable suggestions, simplifying communications and activities management and making engagement fun.”

“…an online eLearning platform to help students improve skills in reading, writing, math, and science, access interactive prep for the SAT, ACT, AP …”

“Presenting an ultra easy standing desk solution…”

” _________ is one of the fastest growing education platforms that develops solutions aimed to enable educators, empower students and engage parents.”

“…Teachers have the ability to orchestrate and deliver content, work collaboratively and monitor student PCs.”

“Here’s your chance to teach 21st century skills to your students with the award-winning ______________.”

“In higher education you need to be able to work smarter and not harder. ___________ is redefining the way that administrators and educators coordinate and deliver great work.”

“The award winning ___________ is ideal for differentiated instruction, communication of school-wide initiatives and recognition of academic achievements.”

“____________, your leading provider of innovative, evidence-based instructional solutions and services, want to help you bring your lessons to life with the ___________!”

“…Students ‘learn by doing’ in a virtual environment where it is easy to undo mistakes and make changes with no material costs or clean up…”

“Technology charged learning starts here.”

I notice the language of magic: “turn into…” I notice the emphasis on ease, simplicity, and competitive advantage (i.e. “award winning, leading”). “Solutions” are prevalent as are high hopes for engagement, inspiration and communication.

This is what I noticed.

It is terribly exciting to be on site for this huge convergence of educator energies and passions. At the same time I am poked and prodded by the awareness that we are, above all, in a sales environment. As teachers, administrators, consultants and bloggers we are being wined and dined throughout the conference by industry representation currently giddy with investment dollars. It’s impossible to be here and not notice that.

This is also the point at which I acknowledge my distinct perspective as a participant-observer. I have come here on my own dime and am under no obligation to a school or district authority to account for the time spent here. I have the luxury and privilege to be able to browse, take-in, network and contribute at my leisure and level of comfort. While the atmosphere is tangibly celebratory, I know that there are many folks, vendors included, who are here and have business to attend to.

So I’ll work on my noticing skills and try to rein in my impulse to judge, judge, judge. #ISTE2016 is an amazing place to be, to learn, to become aware.

 

10 Things I Said In 2015 I’ll Say Again

About our lives with and in tech:

“There is no app for patience. Just as there is no app for respect, kindness or trust.”
There is no app for patience https://edifiedlistener.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/there-is-no-app-for-patience/

“Critical and higher order thinking, collaboration, cooperation, digital literacy – these are skills we claim we want our children to master, that we insist are critical to their success in the future.  And I ask, How skilled are we?  How well are we collaborating and cooperating to inform ourselves and bolster our critical thinking skills?”
Sales, Not Education.  https://t.co/5KmgTARA6B

About my own identity and choices:

“There are many avenues to broaden our understanding first of self, then of our contexts and the societies we inhabit. And doing so involves work. We need to be active in our engagement, willing to blunder and try again, and again. There’s no certification process. Living your learning becomes a necessary maxim in this field. We are never done. And that’s part of what makes it hard and daunting to begin, persist, and tolerate setbacks. But it’s worth it and it is what we must model for our students if we truly want to see them grow and thrive.”

Let’s Talk About Privilege  http://physedagogy.com/2015/05/06/voices-of-physed-lets-talk-about-privilege/  In which I unpack my bundle of privileges as an African-American woman living in Austria.

“For me in my Black female physicality and intellect, the point (and the struggle) is to appear, to become visible, to cease being invisible.”
Woman. Black. Fit. Angry. (In)visible. All of the above

View story at Medium.com

About parenting:

“Not so long ago an idea reached me that offered surprising clarity: On my deathbed I will not be wishing I had fret more over my children’s education.”
What I Will Fret Over https://medium.com/synapse/what-i-will-fret-over-fc696fe0746d#.6t5h5iyq7 

“In my dreams my children and grandchildren will not go to college; they will give birth to one.”

How Much Higher, Education? https://t.co/oEVk5f0GMp

About the intellectual life:

“So there’s that political thing: connecting the things I do, use, and promote to their effect on me, on others, our our collective existence and making decisions about my actions based on the outcomes I say I want… The choices I make as an individual do not happen in a vacuum. They occur and have implications in and for my surroundings and also express views and beliefs that relate to those surroundings. This why reading Audrey Watters and Tressie McMillan Cottam has become so important for me. Both point to intersection after intersection where individual decisions collide or overlap with societal assumptions and outcomes.”

In Deep Water With Audrey and Tressie https://edifiedlistener.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/in-deep-water-with-audrey-and-tressie/

“We cannot go on espousing the importance of critical thinking for our students, in our curricula, throughout our standards, if we are not willing and able to deconstruct the narratives we create and support in our own minds.”
Knee Jerk vs. A Stone’s Throw
https://edifiedlistener.wordpress.com/2015/04/09/knee-jerk-vs-a-stones-throw/

About writing with the intent of being read:
“If we want audience, then we must first and foremost be audience. We need to read widely and astutely. We need to pause as we read the work of others – and become permeable.” 
Author, Audience and Parts of Speech for Digital Writing Month: https://t.co/mldE0OwtP6
   

About learning with my students:
“We’re talking about a game and we’re also talking about who we are in the game, and who has power in the game, and how the game makes us feel when we play it and according to whose rules. The conversation was not about dodgeball, yes or no, this conversation was about how we play and what are we creating in the way we choose to play it.”
Dodgeball Discussions https://t.co/mK8tPqqH1r

2015 turned out to be a very good year for me and my writing. Thank you for reading and supporting my work. May your 2016 be full of deep reading, healthy discovery and fearless personal and professional growth.

High Frequency Ed Reform

100 High Frequency Education Reform Words

by @edifiedlistener

December 2015

School district policy administration teachers
parents partnership staff development priority
achievement gap deficit thinking undermine
classroom effectiveness curriculum delivery require
adjustment overhaul reform education failure
charter no excuse high expectation
Federal spending local tax base
standard mandate taxpayer money distribute
research bid best practice culture
excellence evidence choice data education
tenure profession concern lack resources
innovation technology advanced intermediate standardized
test salary expense political accountability
rules security low income discipline
suspension faculty evaluation value added
measure retention public collaboration observation
duty due diligence calendar contact
days high poverty budget cost
efficient schedule graduation rate college
career readiness pay attention student

 

Leaders of Color Roundtable – A First Assessment

Early on in my coaching venture I articulated where I hoped to be most active and with whom. My goal was to work with leaders in education. I suppose I envisioned work with title-holders: principals, chairs, heads, coordinators. In many ways, they remain a primary target group and yet I am noticing a shift in focus.

In the fall I initiated a Roundtable Group for Leaders of Color and I publicized it through a message board of the National Association of Independent Schools website. My vision was to create a safe space for participants to share and exchange ideas at the intersection of identity, leadership and education with colleagues from a variety of schools. Groups were designed to be kept small (2-5) and scheduled to meet online monthly for 90 minutes.  Two groups emerged and our conversations thus far have been especially rich, nuanced and edifying.  Our topics have included leadership, identity, hiring and being hired, collaboration and competition, and individual school context.

As the meeting convener I create an agenda and offer some reading related to our topic and share these electronically. Here’s what I have learned so far:

  • Reflective conversations can be hard to come by for all of us working in schools.
  • When educators claim the opportunity to listen and be heard by colleagues who can relate, space is created for further reflection and grounded practice.
  • Opportunities specifically for leaders of color to engage with each other in this way appear to be few and far between.
  • At the close of our session there is a mutual gratitude for the time and support that we have shared with each other.

Of all of the initiatives I have started this year, developing  these groups counts as my proudest.  As a concept and practice, the Leaders of Color Roundtable has a future. Each conversation opens the door to much wider dialogues happening in our respective school communities while providing ample room for the individual to explore related terrain.

6 months into this work – the work of  groups: of space making, support fostering and community building – this is the work I recognize as genuinely soul-stirring for me. The more I work with and in groups, the more I realize how much self-care benefits from outside support. Going forward I relish the opportunity to engage more fully with groups, with leaders of color, with the gifts of humanity to create bonds which support, uplift and encourage.

 

*If joining such a group interests you, please contact me via Twitter @edifiedlistener.