Saturday, July 2, 2016

#ISTE2016 Lead and Transform

I am so glad I participated and followed #NotatISTE2015 last year. That small bit of acquaintance helped me to navigate my first ISTE experience and not be as overwhelmed as I know I would have been. There were things I knew I wanted to see and wanted to experience.

I was glad to be there on Saturday. Though, now that I have done that I wish I had come Friday. I would have loved to be there as Hack Education The Unconference began that day. I was tired and excited, but didn't have the energy I wanted. I experienced just a little that day and was quite ready to crash and be ready for the next day.

Being there on the weekend before the crowds pour in was beneficial. There isn't a lot going on, but what is happening is worth being there for, You can walk around and our experienced friends gave us a tour so we could be familiar with the layout.

On Sunday morning I went to Lead and Transform: An ISTE Town Hall on Leadership for Empowering Learners. The audience was more than likely made up of district leaders, but I am so glad I went. I was inspired and awed by the stories of District Leaders that embrace and move forward with the ever changing world. I heard stories and examples of districts who are empowering students, which was the theme for ISTE this year. The morning  session even had students who spoke and shared from their experiences. I couldn't think of a better way for me to start this week of my ISTE experience.

Dr. Don Haddad, superintendent of St. Vrain Valley Schools in Colorado,  was the keynote speaker for this event. He shared how we must "prepare our students for the path ahead of them. Not prepare the path for the child." He shared a great deal of how different our world is now, how information is everywhere. Dr. Haddad shared that we should expect push back and risk will come as we try to change. However, we have "no greater risk than to protect status quo."

Here is the how:

1. Strong Leadership: clear vision, unwavering, a positive yes we can, yes we will attitude.

2. Right people: the people on the bus and in the seats should align with the mission.

3. Robust Professional Development: build capacity, grassroots.

4. Build culture: and maintain the need for change.

5. Build infrastructure: one time grant will not sustain this, wireless, bandwidth, and sustainable funding.

6.Bring tech and instructional together: the system and curriculum, synergy, one team

7. Communication: 24, 7 with everyone. Parents, students, teachers, business, district, state and community

8. Task Force: a team, alert and proactive

9. Digital Curriculum: break down the walls, slow in beginning. Pilot, assess, review, scale up and repeat, repeat, repeat. Create responsible, connected learners.

Dr. Haddad reminded us this is a process, not an event. Don't accept fast and easy, work toward great and sustainable.

Other great ideas that came from this session:

Create a culture of: students can make a difference. 
Put students at the center, allow them to dream and do simultaneously. 
Be models, not critics. 
Slow down, be observant. 

From the students, What does student empowerment mean to you?

Give us choice, pay attention to learning styles. 
It is hard when it is standardized, personalize our education. 
Give us control of pacing, style and and digital tools. 
Allow me to take responsibility of  my learning, give me leadership. 
Don't lecture me, engage me. 
Allow us to advocate for our own learning.
Give us real world lessons, allow us to interact. 

Two final thoughts from the morning came from the Q and A panel.

What does student empowerment look like? One school shared how their secondary students have a period of their school day that is an "edcamp" period. Student run! I love this.

How do we get business involved? Don't ask for a check, ask for their expertise. Create relationships. Think, what can our students do for their business? Bigger districts that are neighbors should partner with rural districts. No more competition or disconnection.

It was an inspirational morning and set my mindset right where it needed to be. I was focused and ready to be a part of the change. I wanted to learn, grow and bring back to my district the same inspiration I had gathered.

Let's not just talk about it, let's be about it!