I had the privilege of attending the What Great Educators Do Differently conference in Katy, TX recently. It was a wonderful experience all around. The sessions were great, and the people were even better. Really, I don’t think I could have asked for a better time. At the end of our two days together, I ended up with a wealth of new information, new challenges, and strengthened relationships with a fantastic group of educators.
The weekend was one of those that leaves you with so much information that you don’t know where to start with implementation. It’s also one of those times that you know you have to organize your thoughts because the ideas were too good to leave as talking points over a weekend; they need to hit the ground at school.
In his opening remarks, Jimmy Casas challenged us to keep this question in the back of our mind throughout the conference: “What does this mean for my students?” I’ve been turning over what seems like a countless number of great ideas from the conference in my mind ever since.
I’d like to share some of those contagious ideas I came across over the weekend. They’re a mix of encouragement and challenge, but there is a huge upside to us taking each of these comments seriously as we serve students.
We are wired to be risk averse. Brave is uncomfortable. – Angela Maiers
I love this idea. We are faced with challenges each and every day that are uncomfortable (or at least I am). Hearing the encouragement that it’s not something wrong with me that causes that reaction, rather it’s something that is hard wired into me that creates it was encouraging to me. I know that I need to work to be brave for my students, and this comment from Angela Maiers is already helping push me toward being bolder for what’s best for each and every student on my campus.
We can’t change the kids, but we can change the way we teach. – Pernille Ripp
We all have obstacles to overcome. Some are new at the beginning of each school year; some are consistent for longer periods of time. All too often we focus on the things we cannot control rather than the things we have great control over. Most of this blame game, for me at least, is the result of me wanting to put some distance between me and my problem, especially when I recognize my shortcomings. Pernille Ripp’s reminder that we can change our actions is exactly what I needed to hear. I am in control of so many of the variables at school; I should worry about those and not dwell on that which I cannot control. I love our students, and the more I take on the responsibility for creating positive change for them, the better off they will be.
In a great teacher’s classroom, everything happens intentionally. – Todd Whitaker
Have you ever been in a great teacher’s classroom who can’t tell you why things are going well this year? Didn’t think so. This idea from Todd Whitaker reminded me that our work doesn’t happen by accident. I need to be better about planning out my day to maximize my output. Just being busy isn’t enough. Our students deserve quality effort from us, not just a lot of effort.
Never pass up the opportunity to say something great about your school. – Joe Sanfelippo
This is something that I’ve known (and probably even told other people to look at), but I still need to get better at this. Over the next few days, I need to sit down and target when I think students, teachers, parents, and community members will be on social media and look seriously at what I can share to tell our story well for each of them. Sanfelippo is a master at this, and I’ll definitely be checking out the #GoCrickets hashtag for models of what I can do to share my school’s story well.
Want to double your credibility with a student? Offer a sincere apology when the time calls for it. – Jimmy Casas
In the middle of all the technology and pedagogy and leadership conversations that happened throughout the What Great Educators Do Differently Conference came this comment from Jimmy Casas that offered an incredibly empathetic, human response to students. It might be my favorite thing I heard all weekend. Students learn so much from their interactions with adults, but we are quick to place blame and slow to take ownership for our mistakes. To me, this is one thing we just can’t afford to get wrong. Especially for our young men, accepting ownership of our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions is imperative. I’m thankful this idea was shared with me.
So, there it is. There’s plenty to ponder, but I’m enjoying thinking through these ideas and considering how each of these ideas can change school for the better for our students!
Also, it’s worth your time to take a few minutes to explore the #WGEDD tweets. So much brilliance and wisdom wrapped up in 140 characters there!