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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The sticky from CUE16

This last week I attended CUE National in Palm Springs with an amazing group of teachers and teachers on special assignment (TOSAs) from my school district, along with our Director of Instructional Technology and our Technology Manager. It was my first time at National CUE, and it was epic. Big thinkers, innovators, game-changers, passionate educators (including those from my own district)-- surrounded by this group of people for four days was inspirational and reinvigorating, and it reminded me why I love my job. And, through all the conferencing, unconferencing, presenting, lunching, networking, hallway chats, and, of course, karaokeing, here is the stuff that stuck most strongly for me at 2016's CUE:

  • It's time for a Joyful Rebellion. Part of my job as a teacher leader is to be a "joy rebel" (@thebradmontague). I am officially joining Kid President's Joyful Rebellion! I am in a lucky position this year, being a TOSA. I have the pleasure of spreading joy across the district, among students, teachers, admin, office staff... I need to focus on this more. Focus less on the negative and only on the positive, and all the ways that I can use my position to help spread joy!
  • Listen more, talk less. I hear this often from more seasoned TOSAs and I'm working on it. I need to resist the urge to fix or suggest, and listen more. My tendency, when someone starts talking about something they want to do, is to jump in with some amazing tool (or two or three) that I love that I think will solve their problem. But really, I need to wait more, listen more, try to help those I work with come up with a solution. I just am so passionate about the power of technology in education that I sometimes get a little excited about sharing... but I need to work on resisting the urge to solve the problem all the time.
  • Exploration before Explanation. Kevin Fairchild (@kfairchild6) reminded us that 21st century instruction means a complete shift to inquiry-based learning. Our students do not need us to teach them facts... they can Google the answers to facts. We need to teach them how to learn. Let students explore a concept before teachers explain further. Lisa Highfill (@lhighfill) echoed this idea and exemplified it with a sneak peak at her lesson design plan. The "explore" time for students falls before the "explain" time for teachers.
  • We need creators & critical thinkers, not memorizers. A topic reiterated over and over again, in session after session, was the need to teach students how to be critical thinkers, not memorizers. I started reading Jo Boaler's latest book, Mathematical Mindsets, just before CUE and the message in Boaler's book aligned well with the message I kept hearing at CUE. It was just another reminder of the big work that we have to do to help teachers in all classrooms shift their instruction away from textbooks and fact dumps and towards inquiry-based instruction, research, and analysis and evaluation of information. Students don't need us in order to learn, they need us so that they learn how to learn. Nancy Minicozzi's (@coffeenancy) session on Imposter Sets gave me some great strategies for implementing critical thinking strategies in all subject areas. And Lisa Highfill's (@lhighfill) Hyperdocs session provided insight on how to develop our students into independent thinkers.
  • We are indeed #bettertogether. The absolute best part of my time at CUE was being with my PLN in person! Face time with like-minded educators, with my tribe, passionate about changing the education system and innovating instruction, is priceless. It reminds me that I am not alone-- as Kid President (@iamkidpresident) said, we are a bunch of weirdos, and it was great to be with all those weirdos in real life! 

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