My district admin. asked me to attend the Building Learning Communities Conference (#BLC12) in Boston this week. Even though it falls on the same week as the Michigander bike ride, I was not riding it this year. Even though I thought I've learned SO MUCH from Twitter in the past 6 months, I went anyway - it was a priviledge to be asked, for sure. I live in Illnois. Never been to Boston. Not a history buff. Not a big fan of airport security, or of being away from my husband, either.
A bit more background...
I follow Erin Olson (@eolsonteacher) on Twitter. I don't know how I found her, but she is a pretty recent (last month?) follow. I love her tweets. She tweets about things that matter, not about the miles she ran today or the weather she's having. (Don't get me wrong - I still follow many of those people!) She's just what I call one of my professional Twitter friends. I could go on and on about Twitter, but that's a long story.
I knew I'd meet Erin in the session she was presenting - Reading and Writing Aware. I didn't look too hard at the synopsis, as I knew I wanted to hear her, and I knew it had to do with my subject area. I had no clue what to expect, but I knew I'd enjoy it. I stood outside the door to the session, and I hear, "Joy?" And I see her - and she's like she looks in her profile picture!! I immediately thought, "Oh, no. I bet I don't look like my picture anymore - I got my hair chopped, and..." but we hugged, and I was happy to FINALLY meet one of the people from across the globe from whom I learn so much!! My next thought... do I get her picture? Everyone at the ISTE conference tweeted out pics of their PLN! Well, I have a "dumb" phone, so I didn't. I really don't need a picture to remember our hour anyway. Check out her Lino here: Reading & Writing Aware
The picture I've included here is from my hotel room. I have a CORNER ROOM! I don't know how that happened, but I'm enjoying reflecting from here. I skipped the session after Erin's, because I wanted to sit here and reflect on all she said, and my mindset as it stands right now.
Teachers have a charge.
Teachers have such power.
Teachers have a limited amount of time in a child's life.
I love quotes that get people thinking.
"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi
"Attitude is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." - Swindol
A new one I saw today on Erin Olson's laptop cover...
"Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct." - Mohammad Ali
Before she began speaking, I typed out that quote and pondered it. I knew that I had to model this more. I needed to be more active towards things I truly believe. She then began speaking, and she looked like a teacher - she spoke slowly, clearly, and waited us out when she wanted our responses.
She spoke of literacy, of what it means to be a literate person (I remember answering her query on Twitter), and of ACTION.
She spoke of making a difference.
She spoke of the power of words.
She spoke of what we can do with the time we are given in a child's life.
I am a dreamer. Everyone knows it - I'm very transparent. Her words, what her kids are doing in her classes, the brutal honesty she showed us... made me want to change the world once again.
She asked me how the presentation was. Tears welled up, because I knew that what she said was possible in my classes as well. (It's crazy that she thought she might not have done well at presenting! Aren't we all our worst judge?!) So this is what I want from our Genius Hour... This is what I want in lieu of book projects (and anything else that makes students' eyes gloss over)...
...students who read
...students who are inspired by what they read
...students who feel empathy when they read
...students who want to act, based on what they've read
As Erin pointed out, "When we finish a book, we don't want to run out and make a diorama of it. We want to share it. We want to discuss it." This is what makes us literate people. This is what changes things that are not right in this world. (Update to this post - Erin wrote about her idea here.)
If this is the only thing I take away from Boston, it's worth it. Thank you, Erin.
I wish school started tomorrow. We could work on changing the world one day sooner...