The 2014 ASCD conference , Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, was held in Los Angeles this past weekend. With keynote speakers like Daniel Pink and Sir Ken Robinson, you knew going in that this conference was going to make you think…and it didn’t disappoint. My big take aways from this year:
#5. Educators are persuaders. That is what we do. Teachers persuade children to learn. Administrators persuade staff to engage and teach. We’re “selling” people, moving them from point a to point b. Education is a form of persuasion. If we are the sellers of what we do, believe in, and are passionate about…who is the buyer? Staff, students, and families. We have to embrace the fact that we have a product to sell, and we want their buy in. No longer can we say that we have all the answers and know what’s best without having to prove it. Informational parity is alive and well. Make a statement and you can be instantly fact checked from a phone in the audience. We have to embrace this new reality and use it to our advantage.Persuading/influencing, not making something, takes up 41% of adult workers time. Standardized test prepare for this…right? Gulp.
For more about the “always be selling” theory and educators as persuaders, check out Daniel Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human.
#4, DNA is not your destiny. Good teaching trumps genes. Eric Jensen was AMAZING. The research he shared during his session was jaw dropping. His session was on how poverty impacts student engagement and learning. “That kid you think sucks? You’d be surprised at whats happening in that kids head.” Some of my tweetable quotes from him:
- The stress we experience is our reaction to a perceived loss of control over an adverse situation. KIDS NEED MORE CONTROL! Ss don’t need more discipline when struggling – rather they need more control in their own lives. Help them!
- Risk factors in an environment suppress IQ.
- My favorite line: If you think a student is just like “his/her mom/dad” you used to teach…ask yourself if it’s because you’re teaching them the same way.
- How we feel is whats real. It’s the link to what we think.
#3, The culture makes a difference for the whole child. Top to bottom, this ASCD conference spoke of the whole child. It was SO incredibly refreshing to see how many sessions were centered around loving, teaching, and growing a child. There is more to a great educational environment than high scores. There were even comments directed at administrators to think about the WHOLE teacher. Principal Sharon Jacobs, from the Washington Montessori School of Greensboro in North Carolina, winner of the 2014 Vision in Action award spoke briefly at a keynote, (I could have listened to her ALL day!). She spoke so highly of her team, and how as a leader it was your responsibility to nurture your staff, & that enthusiasm was contagious. When she came on stage she took a selfie of herself with the ASCD audience in the background. Can you imagine learning in an environment like that? My tweetable quotes from her:
- Proficiency is just one component of educating children…and not necessarily the most important one.
- See children as more than a proficiency number. Take care of basic needs and the proficiency will come, more importantly, Ss GROW!
- Vision, not just seeing things what they are, but what they can be…that’s what what vision in action should be!
- It can be done, we did it, and you can do it too. #educationalmantra Principal Jacobs
#2, Don’t confuse compliance with engagement. What is engagement? What does actual engagement look like? When you have students raising their hands in class…are they engaged or are they just compliant?Self-efficacy and collective efficacy are critical pieces to increasing student engagement. How do we show support for this in the classroom? Robyn Jackson had the statement that “we lament that we want students to be engaged, but our policies and procedures suggest we don’t really want that.” Raise your hand before speaking. Sit quietly. Work independently. Real engagement encourages non-compliance! My tweetable quotes from the Robyn Jackson and Allison Zmuda session:
- Being taught something b/c it’s on a test is not a compelling reason to learn it!
- Goal clarity does not equal posting a LO on the board. Takes more than that for Ss to get it and want it…
- We tell teachers you need more engagement and we end up with teachers entertaining, not engaging. <—–Isn’t this SO true!?
#1, Be a learner, be a sharer, be connected. Compared to last year, there was a definite hum of “connectedness”. There was a presence of technology and social media all throughout. Not a lot of nouns (Twitter, Vine, etc.) were necessarily mentioned…but the verb of being “connected” permeated throughout. Even the president of ASCD gave a shoutout for getting on Twitter. He challenged the audience, saying if he could do it, then anyone could do it! It’s about relationships, it isn’t about a tool. Whether it’s twitter, facebook, instagram, or even any asynchronous community, get connected. Grow with your peers. Admins, great leaders are part of the group as a learner! Set an example for your staff! Michael Fullan had a great line, “Pedagogy is the driver, let technology be the accelerator.” Connections can stimulate conversations and help relight that fire that makes all your energy and efforts worthwhile. Reflecting on our activities, our classrooms, asking for feedback, is an important piece of what we do…and finding a community is where that begins.
If you think about other professions…what would we think of a doctor who discovered a cure for some disease…but doesn’t share it?
I enjoyed every single minute of this year’s ASCD conference, even during the earthquake that hit Monday morning. Leave it to ASCD to literally rock our world, 🙂 Learning from others, being involved in conversations that inspire me, meeting authors that change the way I do business…what an incredible four days! Next years conference is in Houston, so ya’ll come on down Texas way, 😉 You won’t regret it!