It’s about celebrating moments with people.

I love the conference experience, because I love people and their stories. When learners of all ages meet face-to-face to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and continue seeking ways to make teaching and learning better for all–That’s powerful!

To me, conferences are not events: they’re starting lines to begin new journeys and review current paths; springboards to launch new friendships and rekindle maturing ones; and opportunities to spark new conversations and keep mutual learning going.

The further I progress in my own learning journey, the more I seek, appreciate, and gravitate to people. There may have been a time to conquer every single new tool and strategy in smack-down style at lightning speed, but there is definitely a time to be still, listen, reflect, and realize the power of moments with people. (Blogger’s Note: There is a book entitled: The Power of Moments, but I have not read it… yet).

The world is changing. Tools and strategies come and go–now, faster than ever. But what remains is the people. What carries over post-conference are our relationships with each other. What’s memorable and meaningful overall are the interactions experienced in precious moments, binding us together in hearts and minds–at least in our craft. These are the ties that bind.

Walk with me through these binding moments at the 2018 North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference:

1–The Power of Change

While exploring student showcases–My favorite part of NCTIES–Third grade teacher Kimmy Collins inquired of my newborn child (four months) and life as a first-time parent. From the heart, she shared:

Kimmy was talking about parenting… As we conversed face-to-face in the middle of showcase presentations… bustling with students, parents, and educators… at a state conference… about education… and technology. Life–in all its parts–is always changing.

2–The Power of Sharing

Continuing in the student showcases, Margaret Mariella was passionate:

One of the joys of a state conference–especially NCTIES–is learning and gaining perspective from fellow North Carolina schools. And when you hear new ideas and exciting ways to learn directly from students? Priceless.

3–The Power of Being Connected

While enjoying a bite to eat with Marsha Moore Sirkin, we discussed how our world is changing. With several resources and multiplying amounts of information out there, it’s challenging to stay organized–even with electronic folders, drives, grids, and clouds.

4–The Power of Candor

I had the honor to co-present Hashtag With A Purpose with lead presenter Melanie Farrell and Phil Echols.

Afterwards, we had the opportunity to catch up. One candid conversation about the challenges educators face, especially this time of year, was later featured in one of Phil Echols’ #BecomeBetterDaily vlogs:

5–The Power of Diversity

Back in the showcases, North Rowan Middle School students told me how they toured schools in their own Rowan County, interviewing people and researching backgrounds. This, they say, helped them appreciate the diversity of culture and learning potential all around them. I had never heard of an experience quite like this.

6–The Power of Student Voice

In student choice, the teacher still retains most of the control. For example, the teacher picks topics, and students choose from those choices. However, with student voice, students have more ownership in their learning. In any learning experience, especially the NCTIES Student Showcase, you can just tell when students really own their learning.

This Washington GT Magnet Elementary School student showcase was moving, to say the least. I’ve never experienced student voice quite like this. Lead presenter Chris Tuttell and Janet Pride were there, but they didn’t have to say a word. They Let Learning Lead… with student voice and student voices.

This was student voice from the heart. I could feel how much this student cared about her learning. As an educator and as a person, Chris Tuttell has a way of inspiring others, and empowering them to own and lead their learning.

7–The Power of Feedback 

I also had the honor to present “Hashtag Your Curriculum” with seven-time author and Salem Middle School sixth grade science teacher, Bill Ferriter. Presenting with Bill is an educator’s dream come true, in learning potential alone (more on that in a future blog). From our most recent presentation together, I especially cherished these two things:

1–Educators were DOING learning. They didn’t:

  • Attend our session–They experienced;
  • Sit-and-get–They were up-and-moving;
  • Absorb information through passive learning–They were active learners.

I’m so passionate about active learning at conferences, that it’s a goal of mine to invite audience actions and interactions in every future presentation. The last thing a conference attendee needs is to sit-and-get while I stand-and-deliver.

2–Meaningful Feedback

  • Immediately after our presentation, Bill and a few friends gave tips for me to improve the conference session next time. That’s priceless. I google-kept notes right there on the spot, and I’m excited to apply their strategies and advice in the future.
  • The only thing better than receiving feedback for me, was seeing how Creating a Culture of Feedback author Bill Ferriter provided opportunities for his own sixth grade students to give feedback to our session attendees! Now, students were doing research and learning about a curriculum-specific topic from educators who were doing professional learning in a state conference. Wow! THAT is priceless. Check it out:

To see several more student response videos, twitter-search: “@plugusin #sci6P13”.

Blessed be the #ncties that bind.