Sunday, November 3, 2013
Reflections from attending ECOO13
A week ago I attended another fabulous ECOO conference that was organized under the leadership of co-chairs +Doug Peterson and +Cyndie Jacobs. All of the volunteers worked extremely hard to do the impossible--top last year's conference. Three years ago I decided to start saving my landyards and hanging them up in my office and I'm sorry I don't have my landyards from the earlier conferences that I attended. I choose to display my landyards in my office to remind me to reflect on the knowledge I have gained from these conferences as well to reflect on the importance of continuing to learn. I have to also thank +Harry Niezen who first introduced and encouraged me to attend this conference. He is one of the volunteers that helps plan and run this conference. His support as a WRDSB secondary consultant always has me exploring new resources and possibilities. He continues to also provided me opportunities to expand and share my skills.
Leaving your classroom requires a lot of organizing and preparation, but what you gain to bring back to your students makes well worth it. There is no good time to attend a conference. If you're not starting a new unit, you're getting ready for parent teacher night or report cards. I missed my school's parent teacher night, but I was willing to do what was necessary to ensure I met those obligations upon my return. This afternoon I will be contacting all of the parents who left their contact information. Regardless of what's necessary, ECOO13 had a vast array of workshops, presentations, education suppliers, and discussion panels. There were also three keynote speakers that left me energized and inspired to return to the classroom.
+Amber Mac had me furiously bookmarking WBLT resource after resource. In between book marking, I was trying to tweet them out as they were too good not to share. As I look at my list of incredible new resources, it reminds the importance for educators to share their knowledge. The creation of new ideas and resources as increased expeditiously with this digital age and there is no way that anyone person or group can keep up with it. By sharing, we have the ability to improve all students' learning.
+Jaime Casap's stories of his childhood in Hell's Kitchen and how he see the role of technology in learning and teaching has left me reflecting on the importance of teaching students the importance of remaining in control of the role that technology should play in their lives. The bigger picture is as important as the knowledge that technology allows you to gain.
+Kevin Honeycutt's address literally made me and others cry while he shared stories from his childhood and teaching various disadvantaged students who include ones that are serving sentences in the juvenile penal system. He reminded all of us how sometimes we are the only positive role models and sources of support in our students' lives. He shared the impact that his elementary teacher had on him when she hug him knowing that he probably had lice. Not being shunned knowing his past helped him become the person and educator he is today. Whether we as educators know it or not, we have the ability to do the same. I have had similar experiences with some of my past students. This year when I read a past student's application to teacher's college, I discovered that I was one of the first adults who made it okay for him to be gay. Tears streamed down my face when I read how during one particular class I had addressed some students and the class how homophobic slurs or behaviour were not socially acceptable and would not be tolerated in my class ever. I didn't think twice about that day, but it had a positive impact for at least one student in that class and changed the behaviour of some others. Kevin's talk has me asking myself each day, if my actions with my students have helped or hindered with their growth as a person and as a learner.
On top of these incredible speakers, there was a whirlwind of talks to attend--lunch and breaks were sacrificed or eaten on the run so as not to miss anything. If you haven't visited the ECOO13 landyard to view the various resources by the speakers, I highly encourage that you do. It's great how speakers can share their information so that anyone who couldn't attend that particular talk or the conference itself could view these resource. My own slides from my presentation are located here as well. Throughout the talks, I was tweeting quotes and resources to both my educator and student followers. After my talk on the Thursday, I read over the tweets of the attendees and saw the knowledge being shared. I was both excited and flattered that I was worth those 140 characters. It's amazing how the social media allows to share, teach and learn in real time. I had colleagues and students engaged in exploring and discussing the various talks that I attended.
This is why I spend the time to prepare my class, create a talk to share with my fellow educators and attend the annual ECOO conference. I hope to see you there next November--I've already added to my calendar.