It has been a couple of weeks of first for me this month. I went to my first in person conference in two years. For the first time in a couple of years I got on a plane to visit a school to support their work with PBL and MakerEd. It has been a very weird experience. As I reflect on what stands out most to me about these experiences it is pretty simple, Connections.
I was excited to see so many friends at MACUL last week. These are people I hold dear to my heart and we have not been able to connect in person for so long. Sessions were great, but the connections with my friends are what really stood out. Connecting virtually is nice when you have to, but connecting face to face, that is something that is so very special. It didn't take very long for a group of us to be sitting around a table sharing the new tools we are using or the lessons we are trying out for the first time. We are friends, but we are educators always looking to share and learn as well. Those connections were so invigorating for me. I left the conference full of energy and new ideas that I was excited to share with as many people as possible.
I am in Jacksonville, FL this week working with Assumption Catholic School on their move to a PBL focused pedagogy with an infusion of MakerEd. I've been working with them this school year virtually and this is the first time I've been able to come to the school and check things out. I have been able to visit classrooms and see teachers in action. I held an after school session for staff and talked about PBL and what it can look like for teachers and for the students. I was able to hear their stories and be inspired by the work that they are doing every day. Again, at the end of the day, it was all about the connections. Talking to these great educators has been nice and it has helped them get started on their great work, but connecting in person is boost for everyone. Deep down, we all want to connect in some way. Seeing the students have so much learning about headline writing in social studies or exploring poetry in ELA makes me so happy because the kids were so excited.
I loved be able to present in person and see the reaction of the staff as I told stories. As a presenter, I have missed being able to "read the room" to see if I should spend more time on a topic or move a long. That connection that happens in the room if you are doing it right is so amazing and I didn't realize how much I missed it until I did for the first time after a two year break.
There are many great benefits to learning virtually and connecting online for PD, but nothing can ever replace the value of connecting face to face with friends and friends you haven't met yet to support your learning. I look forward to a busy Summer presenting in person across the country. Please take a moment and stop and say hi if I come to your event or you see me at ISTE. I'd love to connect and learn with you.
If you are looking for PD and support as your school explores PBL and/or MakerEd, reach out to me and we can see how we can connect to make that happen.
Hugs and High Fives,