Wednesday, February 4, 2015

EduCon 2015 reflections: 1. Addressing 'EduCon withdrawal'


'EduCon withdrawal' exists.

I just created a Wikipedia page for it.

Totally kidding... about the Wikipedia page.

I see posts on this withdrawal or 'post think tank' depression each year... and I've experienced it myself on occasion.

Why does this happen?

I think there are two reasons.

The fiber of EduCon is to share, discuss, and debate, both at the conference and via the #educon hashtag. It's one of the primary reasons attendees love it.

But... people often go back to isolation after EduCon. Sharing, especially to the degree experienced at the 'conference,' is tougher in a compartmentalized class schedules and traditional PD structures.

By 'traditional' I mean...  faculty meetings with 'updates from the admin team,' tasks ahead, business, and routine operations. And / or the one or two PD 'workdays day per month' scenario. 

One remedy to get things started, and my second point...

Set changes in motion to create time to unpack and explore ideas... to shift how we do business, we need to restructure how we use 'time in schools.'

Creating time and space in schools to connect and collaborate together is often lost in, as Diana Laufenberg puts it eloquently, "a push to do more, and faster."

How we use time... in schools is a challenge. It's often why innovation and forward movement on important challenges often dies. Another initiative, another 'add.'

Creating time into the day to debate and connect... can be done.

I decided it was time this year at EduCon to step outside my usual attendee respite and conjure a discussion on this very issue.

I sent in the proposal to facilitate a discussion called 'Getting Things Moving: Theory into action steps.' It was the best title I could think of... and I'm very grateful it was accepted.

After all the 'Education Revisited' projects I did with students over the years and my sabbatical research... I had a lot to share.

The notes from the discussion hopefully give schools a glimpse on potential structural and philosophical changes to create space in the day to get things moving.

Otherwise... it's another committee, another 'add,' another schedule strain, another chance for innovators to 'burn out,' or to lose momentum in 'sub-committee hell.'

By all accounts thus far from folks who attended and / or reviewed the notes, the session was a success. The conversation generated some good buzz and the outline I posted has had some heavy traffic.

Some of the challenges I'm speaking of?

Chris Lehmann summarizes these challenges eloquently in a recent post:

"How can we make them (schools) more equitable places – especially in regard to issues of race, gender, class and sexuality? How can we ask hard questions about the world we live in and the world we hope our children will create? How can the work we do in schools help students become deeply thoughtful about the world around them? How can we empower them to believe in — and work toward — a vision of the world that is better than we have today? How do schools need to evolve to more authentically ask these questions?"
Tough challenges to address at one in-service day per semester!

So...

Keep moving forward... to help with EduCon withdrawal.

Keep reading the #EduCon hashtag for posts that move your thinking.

Keep reading over the EduCon conversations and follow the links to shred material.

Keep making changes you can with kids in your space or your classroom.

Keep chipping away at moving structural changes forward. A 'Student for a Day' project might be a good first step to open the conversation.

Then take a look at those structural changes in advisory, school schedule, and PD...

Then you can get onto bigger things.

EduCon has me thinking again... about the encouragement I receive from friends to head into administration... to create a more direct line to help steer these structural changes and help drive these larger conversations forward. I'm starting to seriously listen to that encouragement.

I'll post other reflections shortly on the great 'think tank' that was #EduCon 2015.

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