Monday, October 7, 2013

integratED San Francisco

Oh man. I don’t even really know where to begin. Well, I guess maybe I do. I’ve been to two integratED conferences before: #ipdx12 and #isf13. Darren Hudgins and his team know how to put on a conference. Like for realz they do. #isf13 was no different.

integratED SF keynote

Alfie Kohn? Let’s start there. Kohn’s keynote was supposed to start at 6pm on Friday night. It started at about 7:25 or so. Many folks had long since gone home. Oh man, did they miss out. I won’t try to go over all the things that Kohn touched on in this keynote. Sam Patterson storified the keynote - check that out here. Really though, Kohn validated a lot of the weird that I’m trying to do in my classroom. And reminded me of how far I still have to go to get to the place where that I want my classroom to be.

When making session choices for Saturday morning, it wasn’t super hard: I wanted more Alfie. So I hung out with him again on Saturday morning for three more hours of challenging thinking. Check out those notes here. The session was kind of a mix of audience Q and A and Kohn’s thoughts. My buddy Andrew Thomasson was a little jealous that I was getting to hang out with one of his educational heroes and asked that I ask a question: with all the problems with education in the US, where should teachers start - their classrooms? Their sites? Get out and organize?

Kohn’s answer was fascinating. Though he elaborated his point further, he essentially said how much risk are you willing to take on? Well then. If that isn’t a line drawn in the sand, I don’t know what is.

It’s tough to be complacent after hearing Alfie Kohn.

He also challenged my conception of rubrics and what metacognition should look like in students. Fascinating, fascinating stuff. And good to reflect on my practice and think about aspects of it that I took for granted as positive things.

4 hours with Alfie Kohn? Yup.

Other highlights? There was a bunch of awesome that went down at the unconference Friday morning. I got to start a conversation around creating a safe place for students to fail in the classroom. There was some fascinating discussion around the language we use when talking about failing in the classroom. We talked a lot about educating parents and students about failure - about dignifying it and explaining it as part of the learning process. We didn’t get any answers but the conversation was good. We also chatted a lot about the need for supportive administrators to support teachers who are willing to take risks to change their practice. Notes from that sessions are here.

I got to facilitate Things That Suck with Kristen Swanson (yes, one of the edcamp founders and one of my #EduHeroes). It was, as always, lively. It was fascinating to watch a certain presenter at #isf13 - who shall remain nameless - watch the conversation from the periphery. However, this person couldn’t stay out of the conversation and kept coming back over to the group to join the conversation.

You know what doesn’t suck? Things That Suck! Check out Bill Selak’s writeup of Things That Suck here.

Know what doesn't suck? These #EduAwesome peeps!

Feeling a little fried - and wanting to see about what the deal was with Lisa Highfill’s buggy spreadsheet that was running Doctopus - I headed to the library during Friday afternoon’s vendor session. Shhh, don’t tell. The time away hanging out with Lisa, Diane, Megan, and Barb - all MERIT badasses - was an absolute blast. The quality of folks at #isf13 - both participants and presenters - was second to none, making conversations like these awesome to be a part of.

Takeaways from the conference? Lots. I’ve got a badass PLN. Love hanging out with them. I’ve also got a LONG way to go to get my classroom to the place I want it to be at. Like a long way. It’s validating to know that I’m moving in the right direction, but man: so much more work to do on that front.

A huge thanks needs to go to Jennie Magiera for sitting down and talking about #playdate with Jon Samuelson and I at lunch on Saturday. #playdateSJ is going to happen - February 15th, mark it down now. When it happens - and when the playdate Jon organizes goes down - the playdate(s) will be far better because of the conversation I got to have with Jennie.

Additionally, huge thanks needs to go out to Darren Hudgins and his team at OETC. Once again, they put on a top-notch conference in all of the facets of conference-ness. Props, guys. Awesome job.

And what is a story like this without a postscript? While waiting for Jeremy Macdonald’s ridiculously delayed plane into San Francisco for the conference, Jon tweeted about wanting to catch a football game while in the Bay Area. Jeremy was interested too. My gang of Stanford season ticket holders had two extra tickets. However this idea, great as it was, just was never meant to be.

Kidney stone. Multiple ER visits (the first one was overflowing). A late-night In N Out dinner. And yes, live-tweeting an ER visit. Clearly that happened.

Cuz there ain't no party like a Saturday night ER party...

Two last things. Want to check out the Incredible Super Doc that Jon put together with notes on every session? Yeah you do! That’s here. Finally, Rachel Wente-Chaney took some great pictures at #isf13 - check those out here.

So there you have it. Gotta find a way to get to #ipdx in February!