Changing Conference Models

In a weeks time I’ll be in Manila, Philippines to attend the EARCSO Administrators Conference. This will be the third year I’ve presented at the conference…guess it a good thing they invite me back every year. 🙂 This year though I’m trying something different. With the permission of the head of EARCOS. I asked if I could set up a cohort of administrators who might want to go deep in learning about leadership in a digital world. Of course I didn’t even know at the time if any administrators in the region would want to do such a thing. Imagine being stuck learning with me for three full days….who would put themselves through that? In the end I was given permission to send out an e-mail to the administrators in the EARCOS region (about 100 international schools total). If I could get 20 administrators to say they would like to try a cohort model of learning that was embedded within the conference schedule I could trail this concept and see how it goes. Within a week we had 25 people and ended up with a total of 33 administrators from Heads of Schools to Principals, IT Directors, and VPs. Needless to say I am very impressed! So the concept is this: During the first session we’ll meet as a cohort for 90 minutes and do some investigating and hands-on computer work to frame our thinking for the conference. Then the cohort will be able to choose between two technology learning focused sessions to attend. After attending three sessions we will meet again to debrief our learning, reflect, and discuss what we’re thinking and how what we learn can be used in our schools when we leave the conference. We’ll follow this same format all three days. I’ve been working with Andy Torris on this, my good friend and Deputy Superintendent of Shanghai America School. This year Andy and the IT team have rolled out some 1500+ laptops as they start their 1:1 program in grades 6-12. Andy also has more experience running PD sessions with administrators, making us a good team to lead this first cohort. Andy and I were talking about how to engage the administrators in the conference, and have decided that what we want to do is give them options on how they can be active participants during sessions and the conference. With that idea in...

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Do you give yourself permission to reflect?

I’ve been thinking about reflection lately and how we use it in our classrooms. I can remember being in elementary school and being asked to reflect in a journal. Reflection is a great process…a proven process of learning. We’ve been asking students to reflect for years in education so one simple question: Do you give yourself permission to reflect during the work day? and another question: Do your administrators give you permission to reflect during the work day? I say during the work day because I truly feel if we are to become better educators we need reflection time built into what we do. To often we end up like Jenny: When you spend a considerable amount of time learning about how we transform learning with the use of new tools you find yourself online a lot. Most of this effort happens outside of my working day which impacts on sleep, family time and time spent with friends. And that’s not good! Why is it the educators place a high value on the reflective process yet do not give themselves permission to do it during their own working hours? Every educator has prep time. We use that time in a multitude of ways, yet how many of us set time aside just once a week to take 30 minutes or so and reflect. You don’t have to blog, or even write. Reflecting could be reading an educational journal, it might be sitting and staring out the window, or it might be writing down your thoughts. Andy Torris, an administrator, finds time in the back of the car when he’s going from one campus to another in his “Dispatch from the Road” posts. Andy uses his working day time, to reflect and write about his thinking. New comer to the blogosphere David Hamilton has an excellent post on reflection and the act of reflecting. But lest we forget, reflection is hard work. Whether we are sorting out our emotions and discerning personal values and attitudes, or discovering the shaky underpinnings of contemporary truths, reflection takes work, and, I would suggest, it takes practice. As I prepared to write this blog, I was amazed at how difficult it is to keep focused on a single abstract topic for stretches of time over several days. Yes, reflecting is hard work! It takes practice, but more than that it takes time. Do you give yourself permission to...

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