I recently had the opportunity to attend the South by SouthWest EDU (SXSWEDU) conference for a day, and what a DAY it was. It really was an eye opening experience and was beyond my expectations. What I mean by that, is that I was expecting it to be similar to TCEA - an incredible, amazing, wonderful education conference that is put on by some truly caring and amazing folks. I expected to see tons of teachers....from Texas. That is where my expectations fell WAY short. SXSW is an international conference and of the people I was able to meet and visit with, I'd say maybe 20% of the attendees are actual teachers. Though I am unsure of the actual breakdown, that seems to be about right, with the rest of the attendees compromising industry professionals, developers, consultants, etc.
What that presents, to me, is an incredible opportunity to collaborate with some of the best and brightest in the industry on an international level. Talk about eye opening! Too often, we reach a level of complacency talking to people in our own field at the regional or at most, the state level. It is inspiring and humbling at the same time to meet educators from Kansas City, Chicago, California, Pittsburg, Colorado, etc., and listen to their best practices and innovative ideas that they are using in their classrooms. Some conversations make you feel like, "Yeah! I/we hit the nail right on the head with that thing we're doing in class" and you feel this rush of affirmation. Conversely, you talk to folks at schools that are at the forefront of innovative teaching practices, and feel so behind, yet so inspired to push yourself to work harder to provide the best experiences for your students.
Attending this conference reminded me of a quote that our Director of Digital Learning shared with us last week. The quote was from Dr. Gary Stager, who said, "Schools have a sacred obligation to introduce children to things they don’t yet know they love." I believe that these education conferences are an amazing way to do just that.
So I want to leave you with a take away from that one workshop that I was fortunate to attend.
Below is a video called "Austin's Butterfly"
Here is a link to the site.
So the question that I'm going to leave you with is this:
Are we getting the absolute best out of our students? If not, what can we do as educators to promote that in our students? LOTS of possibilities. Feel free to discuss in the comments.