He raised a finger, smiled mischievously, and told the crowd: “The next three days are going to be awesome.”
…and about that Kevin Fairchild was right.
This June I went to CUE Rock Star Vista, a gathering of (mostly) teachers from around California interested in learning how to expand their use of technology in the service of learning. I knew (or knew of) a few of the folks organizing the event, and I appreciated from the start the exuberance and humor they brought to the week.
I’m a sucker for the beauty of an EdCamp un-conference, and it was a treat to see the presenters and participants bringing some of the same looseness and sense of play to CUE.
As a principal, I was in some ways an oddity in the crowd; just about everyone there taught or was a teacher on special assignment, true rock stars, but to a person everyone I met welcomed me as a peer, and the value I got from the sessions I attended is something I will bring back to my work in the fall.
I find that as an administrator I do best when I approach my work with the mindset of a teacher. I taught for thirteen years, constantly asking myself “is this good for my students?” It’s a question I try to keep front and center in my work outside of the classroom.
I loved that from the first session I attended I was shown tools that could help me right away. Daniel Bennett introduced me to Adobe Spark, and by the end of the first day I’d made a video about construction on campus that I could share with my school community through social media.
Day two was just as good, a highlight Natalie Priester’s session on “Growth Mindset Grading.” While I don’t have a classroom of my own, the ideas from that session will inform conversations I have with the amazing teachers at my school.
A highlight each day was a two hour working lunch, the first half dedicated to making meaningful connections and the second half, after a delightful break for ice cream, an opportunity for us to slip into a little EdCamp style fun.
Our organizers set up a link where we could suggest topics, much a the board that begins every EdCamp, and we had an opportunity to gather in classrooms and talk about topics as diverse as Twitter for newbies, digital portfolios, and Breakout EDU.
The final day I sat with a group of thoughtful and fun teachers and talked about using inquiry to drive instruction. With Tara Linney leading our discussion, we spent time learning more about how we might use our students’ sense of wonder to help them learn. I left inspired, particularly around work I can imagine doing with my parent community.
As important as the information I took away from CUE Rock Star Vista was the feeling of renewal that came from being surrounded by passionate educators who care deeply about what they do.
It would be a fib to say that I’m not looking forward to some time off in July, but I can think of no better way to end June than three legitimately awesome days at CUE.