Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Conferences Matter

Okay. First off, I want to say that I have had an amazing two days at AuthorSpeak. I've learned with a wonderful group of colleagues, school leaders, and educational thinkers, researchers and authors. Conferences like this one definitely motivate me to keep learning, keep striving for a better way to learn with kids, and keep making a difference to my profession.

The conference began with Daniel Pink's keynote about what motivates people: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. I think that this is what makes conferences useful to me. I have the autonomy to guide my professional development, the opportunity to work toward mastering the complexities of education, and the sense of purpose culled from the collegial sharing that goes on.

One of the most exciting things that I have done is to meet and talk with some of the people I follow on Twitter. I already knew about their passion for learning and for kids, but to share a few moments of collegiality and to take those asynchronous, digital relationships and make them concrete added a new dimension to my experience of my PLN. As Bill Ferriter mentioned, social media isn't about the technology, it is about the people.

It was especially exciting to meet Angela Maiers. I first discovered her passion for learning though the following video:

The amazing thing is that immediately upon meeting her, I knew that she means what she says. We all matter, and we have the power to make a difference in the world. More importantly, that same power is what can drive our own lives. I can choose to embrace and create my own autonomy, mastery and purpose, and I can nurture that motivation in others.

Tom Whitby mentioned today that education is lacking the leaders who will change the conversation about learning from standardization and testing to authentic learning and discovery in the eyes of a public that doesn't see the complexity of the issue. To me, that is a challenge. Will I be herded, or will I drive my own career? Will I wait for a solution, or will I strive to make that solution? Will I accept that I matter and own the responsibility that comes with it, or will I fail to meet the challenge of making a difference in the world?

Sure, this could be the conference talking, but in this moment, I absolutely accept the challenge to matter. That is why conferences themselves matter. They are the intellectual playgrounds where I own the learning. They are the place where intellectual collisions lead to new ideas and projects. The task is to have the courage to bring those projects to life.

To all of the teachers I've had the joy of learning with over the last two days, thank you. You matter to me. I hope we can all keep pushing together to matter to our kids, our profession and our world.

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