Passion: Reflections on PETE&C
I have learned quite a bit about passion over the past five days here at PETE&C. Passion has been one of the best things to think about as I moved through Keynotes, sessions, meals, the exhibit hall, and connection with my PLN.
It started on Saturday, with the CFF Coaches preconference. We met Steve Sassaman, who gave us so many things to think about as we return to our districts and set out to continue working with our teachers. And Steve had a passion for what he was talking about. As he was talking throughout the afternoon, I couldn't help but think about how I could make changes to what I do to better communicate to the staff at school as to what I could do for them. Just from the opening skit where he and Suzanne Loftus (CFF Coach from Council Rock) demonstrated how words left unsaid can lead to misconceptions about both parties, I was able to realize that whatever it is that I mean to say, I should say it how I mean it. I can't assume that others will know what I can do unless I come out and say, "This is what I can do." Steve had us for almost 4 hours, and there was a short break built into his time, but I did not find myself counting down the minutes to break. The time came, he let us decompress for the break, and when it was time to get back to his presentation, we all sat back down and got right back into it. He had us because he had passion.
Sunday, our school helped to host the preconference sessions. I went in to school to assist with any issues that came up, as well as to complete my sub plans for the rest of the week. I saw people presenting 6-hour workshops on things they were passionate about. They shared freely, knowing that they were sharing their passion. This passion will lead to new uses in new classrooms, leading students to new knowledge, and hopefully, new passion.
Monday, the main conference began at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. The opening Keynote didn't really appeal to me. I think this was partly due to the fact that Jason Ohler seemed to be speaking more toward the elementary audience, as opposed to things I was interested in. I'm sure that when I go back and review his Keynote materials that I will find things that I can identify with, but his presentation didn't connect directly with me. However, I couldn't help but notice his passion. The zeal with which he spoke, the energy that he exuded, his willingness to share, that's what I got from the Keynote.
Throughout the remainder of the day Monday, I wandered from session to session, collaborated with those in my PLN, and spoke with vendors, and in each, I experienced a different passion. In the sessions, I saw passion for allowing students to become school leaders as part of a student tech team. There was passion for making sure we were providing students with an education of safety while being part of the online community. On the exhibit floor, I saw passion toward providing new, innovative solutions to old problems. I saw passion for services that were being offered. Passion towards providing a higher education to our teachers so they could provide a better education for our students. And from my PLN (twitter friends, CFF Coaches, new connections), I saw a passion for advancing education. I saw passion toward being the innovators that are willing to share, educate, take risks, make connections, collaborate, give credit to others, learn, and be the leaders in education that make our schools something that we haven't seen before.
I was able to share one of my new passions. I took the lead in a Birds of a Feather session, where I facilitated a discussion on cell phones in education. I could go on for hours about what these devices can offer us. The discussion went for an hour and a half, and then I was approached after the session and continued to have the discussion with others over the next hour (and the next two days). I had a few educators ask if I would be willing to speak to teachers and administrators in their area in the future. Of course I'm willing! It's my passion!
Tuesday we had Daniel Pink as our Keynote, where he shared his passion for education, but from an outsider's perspective. The biggest thing I got from him was that we need to find ways to join the two sides of our brains. We need to find ways to be logical and creative to find new ways to solve the problems that are presented today.
Today was a Keynote from Rafe Esquith, and it was one of the most powerful presentations I have seen. I can't even begin to describe the passion this man has, but I can say that there were numerous times where he and his students brought the audience to tears. I know he reached every teacher in the room when he talked about how we often don't know the difference we may make in our students' lives. And we continue doing it for less pay than we deserve. And each year, we continue to improve our methods in the hopes that we can offer more and more for our students. And we do it due to our passion.
I know that I will continue to do what I must do to improve the things I do in my classroom. I will continue to fight for a full-time position as a technology integrator in my district so that I can provide the support that our teaching staff needs to best meet the needs of our students. I will continue looking for new ways to include cell phones and iPods in education. I will remain connected to my PLN at all times, no matter where I am, not because I can, but because I need to in order to drive my passion.
And here I am, reflecting on PETE&C. The conference at Hershey is over, but the new and existing connections will continue. The passions we all have will be shared. More innovation will be introduced into education and we will all be there to support each other. And when we think we might be done, we'll all sit down and realize that we have just begun, no matter how much we have accomplished. And it will be our passion that drives us to continue.