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Thursday, August 04, 2016

2016 MTA Summer Conference: Where Will The Learning Lead You?

There's rarely regret when I engage in new learning experiences, and there's
always something new to bring back to the school community where I teach.
Yesterday's closing of the "The Hosting Conversations" session at the MTA Summer Conference ended with this checkout question, What was your rose, thorn, and bud during this workshop? It was a great question. My rose, of course, was the great new learning, well choreographed presentation, and terrific language for innovation process and positive change. The thorn was the humility and regret that I always feel when I learn something wonderful, and that's the feeling of Why didn't I know this before, and what a difference this learning would have made with regard to past events. And, most importantly, the bud which is essentially asking, Where will this learning lead you?

I know that the learning from "Hosting Conversations" will serve to integrate better process into all areas of teaching and learning, and that the improved process will serve to strengthen the community of learners and educators in ways that will help all of us to learn and teach better.

Overall, the MTA Summer Conference so far has resulted in terrific inspiration, so much so that it will take me some time to digest the new ideas--ideas well developed by so many talented and dedicated educators. Educators today are not letting this knowledge age pass them by, instead I find that most teachers I meet are maximizing the ready access to information and share, and using that knowledge to develop their practice and craft in ways that matter.

As with any learning event, there's lots of unexpected learning and inspiration too. For example, I really enjoyed eating in the University cafeteria with such a diversity of college workers, high school students who were attending special programs, college athletes, and MTA colleagues from throughout the state. There was a vibrancy there, and a bit of a vision about where our communities can move with regard to coming together to share stories, meals, and time with people of many ages and interests.

Also throughout the week, I heard many, many stories from educators throughout the state. I can say that no one school or location has a monopoly on talent and dedication. I was struck by the terrific creativity, care, and depth these teachers bring to their students, communities, and life in general. I was also saddened to hear of the inequity with regard to student need and response throughout our state, and the affect that poverty and challenged family lives have on so many children. In a state like ours, I hope we can truly work towards eliminating poverty and providing better services for children who struggle. It's not an easy call, but it's one I believe we can accomplish. In that respect, I invite educators who are interested in looking for ways to meet this challenge to submit an RFP or later, a nomination request, to attend the MA2016 - ECET2 which will foster a conversation about this topic with educators throughout Massachusetts.

In the meantime, I'll end my week here at the MTA Summer Conference with two presentations. During the first, we'll share knowledge and questions about reflection and look at ways that we can "Reflect for Success" with regard to our professional goals and pursuits. Then a few minutes later, on the other side of campus, I'll lead interested educators in a discussion and activity related to "Maker Math," and the ways that we can use hands-on experiences to make math more memorable, engaging, and successful for all students. If you're interested in either topic, please join me.

It's been an unusually busy summer for professional learning which started with my local system's STEAM and Literacy Institutes, then the Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston, now the MTA Summer Conference, and the McAuliffe STEAM Workshop next week. The Fall will bring MassCUE, ECET2-MA2016, and a number of systemwide professional learning events. In the days ahead, I want to find that time to give my mind a chance to integrate and synthesize this information, and then in the new school year, I'll embed the learning while teaching my fifth graders and working with colleagues.

It's important not to lose sight of new learning, and to find ways to embed the information sooner than later. Similarly, it's just as important to choreograph the learning events so that you're choosing workshops, conferences, and research that match your questions at a good rate so that it's a just right diet of new learning and related development.

Specifically, with regard to the MTA Summer Conference, the conference always provides a chance to deepen knowledge, meet and learn from educators from systems other than your own, challenge yourself, have fun, and enjoy a bit of an "education" retreat. I'm already thinking about how I might take advantage of many of the opportunities I couldn't fit in this week next year. Onward.