Educon Day Two: Making, Thinking, Making

When I got back to my hotel at the end of the day, I couldn’t even remember everything I’d done.  I started the day with informal conversation with Andrew (@tieandjeans), then I went to a session on prototyping where we were supposed to prototype a class, but we got kind of hung up on obstacles we faced: testing, fixed mindsets, teachers, standards, etc.  I got some great ideas, especially for professional development, specifically a class for students and teachers to learn together, probably best taught by an outside person.  I met some great people and had some really fun conversations even if I didn’t prototype my class.

After that, I headed to lunch with my friend, Colin, a new friend from the session and some of Colin’s colleagues.  Really yummy noodles plus geeky talk.  That was a blast.

After that, I went to a session on Creating Digital Learning Organizations, which kind of blew my mind.  At my table, there were two colleagues from our brother school who I really enjoy talking to, plus a guy whom I’ve been following on Twitter since like 2007 and another super smart guy.  We talked through what learning organizations are, what adding the word digital to that means, and how we create a culture of learning and openness to change in our institutions.  It made me think that I need to become less afraid to share my ideas and thoughts, something I think I’ve said a million times, but I need to be reminded.  You can push for things in thoughtful ways.  You don’t have to be dragged down by negativity and a lot of “yes but” talk.

Then, Sylvia, Jim, Andrew, and I ran our #makered sprint.  It was a challenge to put #makered into a form when #makered is about breaking forms.  We struggled with tying #makered to disciplines and curriculum vs. using #makered to break down the walls of that exist between disciplines and standards.  It’s a chicken-egg problem.  Sometimes to get a #makered philosophy into school, you have to create a specific connection to curriculum or standards or a discipline or a unit.  Maybe, though, just maybe, if you are successful with that piece, teachers will see how through a project like this, you can go way beyond the curriculum and standards.  As someone said, you do the project and then you say, oh, you’ve learned this, this and this.  All makers I know within schools struggle with the way that standards and schools make us think we can’t do these things, that we’re tied down.  But we don’t have to be.

To me, that’s what Educon is for, it’s why people come.  They want to find ways to break those ties, to rise above the everyday struggles and conflicts they might find themselves in.