Friday, August 01, 2014

Reflections from the Leyden 1:1 Symposium

I was lucky enough to be one of the 400 participants at the Leyden High School District 212 1:1 Symposium from July 30-August 1. Honestly, this was hands-down, the best PD I have received in years. From the moment I arrived and was greeted by the exceptional Leyden students, I could sense that this event would be special. You cannot help but feel #LeydenPride just by walking through the hallways. The leadership team behind the 1:1 Symposium truly tailored this event to every individual in attendance from teachers to administrators. The entire experience left me feeling motivated and inspired, which is exactly what you need on August 1st when the upcoming school year is staring you dead in the face.

Since the event was capped at only 400 participants, I feel a responsibility to share my major takeaways with others. (Seriously, if Jason Markey, Bryan Weinert or Mikkel Storaasli are reading, you guys are going to have to open this up to more people next year!)

So, here are my four favorite takeaways that I am borrowing from the brilliant minds that came together to share their passion about 1:1 learning in today's classrooms.

1. Start Small
This idea was really well stated by Jennie Magiera who suggested to start with one focus for the school year instead of trying to do everything all at once. Jennie also reminded participants not to "put the technology ahead of the pedagogical horse." In other words, the way we teach is more important than the device alone. If we start small with only one focus that is about teaching rather than the technology, we will be more successful in our classrooms.

2. New is not always Better
This was another idea by the inspiring Jennie Magiera, who shared that just because you have all of those shiny new devices in your classroom does not necessarily mean that you need to use all of that technology 100% of the time. Sometimes the old tech-free way you teach students is even more effective than with tech in hand. I think this is very poignant for any teacher who is about to begin the school year teaching in a 1:1 Learning Environment. 

3. Listen to the Students
At Leyden, the students have a voice. Whether it be through Twitter, blogging, or by asking students to share their thoughts during the Leyden student panel at the closing session, those students have an opportunity to share what's on their minds. Naturally, when you give students a voice, those voices are heard. This is an important reminder to all educators that students want to be heard and we have a responsibility to listen!

4. Find Joy
The opening keynote speaker at the Leyden 1:1 Symposium, Dean Shareski, shared how important it is that we all cultivate a more joyful experience in our schools. One of the ways for us to make this condition possible is for all of us to be a little more grateful. I think we need to keep this in mind as we all prepare for a new school year. Let's be grateful and remember to say thank you to acknowledge the greatness within one another. 

Getting started on a 1:1 journey will surely be filled with roadblocks and speed bumps along the way, but after spending three days at Leyden and hearing of their successes, I am certain that anyone going 1:1 in their school district is on the right track!

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