Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reflections on the ICE Conference 2014

Last Thursday and Friday, I had the pleasure of attending the Indiana Connected Educators Conference 2014.  While I have attended many conferences and workshops in my eight years of teaching, this was by far the most valuable professional development I have experienced.  Yes, for once I felt like I didn’t “attend” a PD; rather my two days were full of experiences!  Here’s what made ICE Indiana 2014 a different kind of PD for me!

The Keynote Speakers
Wow!  Dave Burgess and Kevin Honeycutt almost left me speechless!  While I follow both of these gentlemen on Twitter, I had never seen either of them in person!  I read Dave Burgess’s Teach Like a Pirate just before school began this year, and it greatly influenced my outlook on teaching this year-so much, in fact, that I wrote about it in my very first blog post in August!  His energy is unreal, and he is so right when he explains that our students deserve for us to be there and to be “on” all the time!  
Kevin Honeycutt did not disappoint either!  His compelling personal stories tied to his amazing thoughts on education blew me away!  He stressed time and again that students need to be taught and challenged to do positive things with technology, thereby having no time to do potentially harmful things with their technology.  He also explained his philosophy of sharing the good things we educators are doing in schools and being our own best publicity.  If we remain “secret geniuses,” a potential is created that our good work will be lost with us!
Dave Burges promotes the idea of the “Five Word GPS” to guide teachers.  Teachers simply imagine the five words they would like to hear students use to describe their class most often, and then use those five words as a personal GPS to examine the route of each lesson, day, unit, communication, etc.  In a similar vein, Kevin Honeycutt shared the idea of the “30 second soul selfie,” a 30 second video that explains who we are and why we are here.  I LOVE both of these ideas; I will definitely be adding them to my website this week!  These would be some awesome whole staff activities as well at a collaboration!

The Camaraderie--Building and Expanding Professional Learning Networks
I knew going in to this PD that I would pretty much be going on my own.  Sure, my amazing tech director Kelly Clifford was going to be there too, but she was presenting three times each day.  While this didn’t scare me away (I have been to many PD events on my own before this), I have found many foreign language and English teachers at the conferences I usually attend to remain loners or to stay with “their groups” and in their comfort zones.  I am not a shy person, so meeting new people is usually not an issue for me...except at these conferences.  ICE was nothing like these prior experiences!  In each session (and, actually, at breakfast before the sessions began), I was able to meet and connect with people from all over the state who were not afraid to meet new people either.  After the first day, I had connected with teachers from Wawasee, Evansville, and even Santa Claus, Indiana!
The other difference maker was Twitter.  Now, I am fairly new to Twitter.  I had an account for over a year before I ever did anything with it!  Thanks to the Technology Leadership Certification with Kim Hendrick and Central Indiana Education Service Center, I am using Twitter more all the time.  I was actively tweeting during the conference, getting retweeted, and both following new people and gaining new followers.  Twitter does help us connect and share ideas, and ICE Indiana was a great time for even new Tweeters to grow.
The Practicality
I left ICE with countless new ideas, yet most of them I can implement myself with little to no prep work.  Sure, getting other in my building and in my district on board with some of these ideas will take some time, and it may be a few weeks before I can incorporate some of the ideas meaningfully effectively in my lessons.  But the great news is I attended sessions that were RELEVANT to what I am doing in the classroom and as an aspiring administrator, and the advice for implementation was PRACTICAL and achievable.  

Since the sessions were so practical, I felt inspired.  Maybe it’s a little of Kevin Honeycutt’s “secret genius” mentality meets Dave Burgess’s TLAP, but I’m sure I could lead a session next year!  Look for me at ICE 2015!