February 2 — 11:23 am, 2010

EduCon 2.2 reflection

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EduCon 2.2, presented by Science Leadership Academy, promised to be more than just a conference, and it delivered.  

The notion of being talked with, not at, was only one departure I found from other conferences I have attended.  Another major difference I noticed is how free my hands were.  At typical English teacher conferences I am used to having my hands full of papers and pamphlets, books and of course, the ubiquitous tote bag.  At EduCon, much of the conversation was paperless and taking place on live streams and Twitter feeds.

I walked away from EduCon 2.2 with my mind swirling with ideas about how to improve my teaching and create more meaning in my classes – pretty good for a snowy Saturday afternoon.

A reoccurring theme I heard throughout the conference was how to open and deepen the lines of communication among teachers and students. 

Hopefully by now people recognize technology as providing more than just fun toys, but also tools for communication and making sense of the world. The sessions I attended at EduCon made me think about how to use technology as a way for students to communicate with me what they learned. 

As teachers we are constantly assessing students’ understanding and tweaking our lessons based on what we learn, but we are not always conscious of how effective, or engaging, the assessments might be. If we want to have an accurate view of student learning and perspective, we must meet them where they are.

I was also struck by the powerful connections being made between and among practitioners at the conference.  I was impressed that presenters were not just from Philly schools, but from across the U.S. 

The Sunday panel discussion on pedagogical and policy reform, for example, framed the conversation of educational reform within the context of state and federal influence. One of the presenters on the panel made the point that education reform is necessary from time to time because education looks a lot different than it did in the 17th century. This struck a chord with me as I envisioned some of the school buildings I have been to in Philadelphia. Although I believe 21st century learning tools and reform to be fundamental to progress in schools, some schools in our district reflect 20th – dare I say even 19th -century design and pedagogical structures. When we address the question of how we as a district can be better, then, we must always remember issues of equity in our schools.

As I said, I may not have left EduCon with a bunch of loot in hand, but it certainly left me with much to think about. I left thinking about how to assess my students’ learning and how to foster critical media literacy skills in my classroom.  Mostly, though, I left thinking about how to make my classroom – and classrooms across the District – better able to serve and prepare students of the 21st century. 

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