The past two days I participated in the first Affton 1:1 Symposium. The purpose was to bring together local educators and ed tech leaders to share our experience, advice, and future ideas for managing one to one classroom environments.
I’d like to share my three most important lessons I took away from the conference:
1) Show your passion
Throughout the conference, a common theme in each of the keynote speeches was passion. The combined message is that it’s important for teachers to express their personal passions and for teachers to help students discover their own passion. The school year is long, exhausting and full of distractions that get in the way of what makes being a teacher fun. But remember: students need role models who are passionate about learning and, even more importantly, who are passionate about them. So when you think that passion is fading, find ways to reignite it. It’s a tough job, but we all know the rewards are priceless.
A few slides from the opening keynote that kicked off the inspirational two-day symposium. All the of the keynotes had phenomenal messages to share.
2) Seek out collaboration
The reason Affton’s Symposium was so awesome is simple: it brought together local educators to share and imagine together. Teaching is a mix of science and art, but it’s definitely not an exact recipe. There are no magic bullets, no perfect strategies, and no quick fixes. Rather, being a teacher means being willing to constantly experiment, learn, and grow in your practice. Affton gave all of the participants the opportunity to do just that and more schools should learn from the example. The biggest problem in education is that the best and brightest teachers work in every school but never have the chance to collaborate. In the tech age, it’s important for educators to seek out the development they need to continue being great. Even if that’s over the summer during our “vacation.” I always gain a fresh perspective and new ideas when I’m around passionate teachers like those at the Affton Symposium. Collaboration is KEY.
3) Personalize the learning
The biggest advantage technology has granted us is that learning no longer has to be linear. Gone are the days of textbooks. No more one-size-fits-all worksheets and activities. And say goodbye to rows of uncomfortable desks. Teachers have to think outside the box compared to what education looked like for them. Instead of leading, teachers should ask the students what they want their learning to look like. During the conference, I was especially inspired by Affton’s student panel and hearing their opinions. Each student has a special interest and it’s important teachers learn to connect students’ passions to the content they teach. Technology now makes this achievable. This also ties in with classroom space design, which was another big topic at the conference. Affton created their own Idea Lab space and is encouraging its teachers to reimagine their learning environments. For me, this is my biggest challenge for next year, but I can’t wait to see what can happen when the classroom space supports personalized learning. Here are some pictures of Classroom 15:
After two days of networking, learning and presenting, I’d say the first Affton Symposium was a huge success. I got a lot of inspiration for the upcoming school year and have a new passion for teaching. Thanks to the Affton school district for opening up their doors and inviting others to share in the event.