Sunday, January 31, 2016

ECET2: Cultivating Passion, Practice, and Contribution

Day two at ECET2 in San Diego for me focused on how we cultivate passion, practice, and contribution in our own work as educators, with colleagues, and in our students. There is so much we can do, and we have to collaborate to do it well.

Working backwards, the night ended with the amazing song, We Shall Overcome, led by Boston Public Schools music teacher, Jeremy Collier. When a better video is produced I'll replace the one below, but for now that will give you a wonderful snapshot of Jeremy's wonderful talent and the passion and heart in the room.

Before that Janine Campbell and Crystal Culp inspired us with stories of their educational journeys and their tremendous work with students. Again, I hope to add videos of these stories because they are stories that should not be missed. Earlier in the day Jaraux Washington gave a clever, targeted talk too where she utilized the story and characters from The Wiz to point us in the right direction when it comes to teaching every child well. I want to revisit all of these talks in the days to come and embed their wise, loving, and targeted messages into my work.

During the breakout sessions I had the chance to think and learn more about delivering a math program that meets standards and focuses on mindset in engaging, successful ways. A collaborative team of teachers from DC public schools shared their thoughtful approach to making this happen in their own school.

I also had the chance to learn about a powerful program in Tulsa, Oklahoma led by Dr. Anthony Marshall. The session titled Empowering African Young Men to Excel in Schools provided many activities and approaches to use as a way to cultivate passion, forward academic growth, and encourage contribution for all students. I captured many of Dr. Marshall's specific point on Twitter which I'll storify and add to this post later. I want to relook at his words as I think about how my colleagues and I can better support our students.

Wendy Sauer from the Gates Foundation "celebrated and elevated" all educators in her introductory talk at the start of the day. She prompted us to focus on our teacher leadership work, and then we reached out to share that work with each other through an informal exchange. I had the chance to meet a number of educators and learn about their wonderful work during that share. Colleague circles were another highlight of the day. We were introduced to our circle team on day one, and then during day two, we focused together on a problem of practice using a strategic approach. The team represented educators from throughout the country and multiple teaching roles. Together we shared our ideas and experience as we made progress on a specific problem. It was a powerful experience.

During breakfast, lunch, breaks, and in the evening, there was time to meet teachers from all over the country, walk to the beach, talk with colleagues by the fire looking out over the ocean, and share ideas. Specifically at lunch I had the chance to talk with Massachusetts' educators and benefactors who are invested in making our schools the best that they can be. Powerful ideas, programs, and questions were shared at the table. I want to think more about what we discussed and how I might learn more and contribute to solutions to the problems highlighted. 

I remain grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Education Foundation for reaching out to educators to provide this powerful experience, one that will continue to motivate me and so many in the days to come. I am also grateful that my school system was able to give me the time and support my attendance here and I look forward to sharing the ideas and practice I learned about with my colleagues there.