Louis Riel School Division’s first ITHappens EdTech Conference marked my first professional development session for the 2016-2017 school year and it was a great day of learning! In my attempt to document and reflect a bit on my learning (versus tucking a folder of notes away in my filing cabinet never to be seen again) I am here to share what I took away from the session.
The keynote address by Meg Chopek was very inspiring! I loved hearing her stories about learning alongside (and from) the kids. It is so important to model lifelong learning for our students! Remember when you thought your teachers (or parents) knew everything? Plus, what kid doesn’t like teaching an adult a thing or two?! Learning alongside the kids versus playing it safe and only sticking to what WE know, opens the door to so many other possibilities.
More than once she also talked about the importance of teaching kids that it’s okay to get things wrong, make mistakes, and fail. Yes! So true! I touched on this in my last post when talking about the book Mindset. While not a new idea, I think sometimes we forget that this too needs to be modelled and verbalized for our students and children. As a parent, and in my role as school counsellor I need to remember to do this more often. When my 5 year old daughter struggles with something, and I share a similar struggle I’ve had or a mistake I’ve made, I feel like she is immediately relieved and more willing to try again or do better. Not only do kids often think adults know everything, a lot of them think we don’t make mistakes, so admitting and sharing our struggles and making mistakes in front of them, goes much further than just saying it’s okay for THEM to fail and make mistakes.
After the keynote address I had the chance to attend three sessions. The first one touched on some social skills programs that I have long been interested in exploring a bit more (The Incredible Flexible You, and others by Social Thinking).
It was great to hear from teachers who have already used the program, and to hear how they are using it with their students. They offered great advice on getting started and pointed out lots of little free gems on the website. If you’re a school counsellor, I highly recommend checking it out (https://www.socialthinking.com/).
The second session I attended was about coding with kids. This session was very inspiring and fun! Before attending, all I could think about was my high school computer programming course and how daunting and overwhelming it was, so coding with kids seemed so far fetched to me. Well, after ITHappens, I was barely home two minutes and I had my 5 year old daughter coding, so that just shows how doable it actually is. I can’t wait to get started with my students! If you’re interested in coding with kids, but don’t know where to start, check out Kodable. I promise, it’s super easy!
My final session of the day touched on Deeper Learning, and the 6 Cs. It was an inspiring end to the day and an amazing showcase of the work and learning that can be done by students when they feel empowered and are in the driver’s seat of their own learning.
Learning aside, the conference was also a great chance to reconnect and catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a while. ITHappens was the perfect transition to the busy year ahead! Good job presenters and organizing team!