On the Wednesday of MEA weekend, we were very fortunate, through our local collaborative – Zumbro Education District, to have Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) come to SE MN and present to several school districts. It has been a couple of days since that presentation, and I felt compelled to take some time to reflect on the day!
Honeycutt totally reaffirmed everything I believe in the potential of “school”. Sometimes work in EDU can make things so cloudy, confusing. Sometimes things that shouldn’t matter get in the way of things that should. Sometimes things seem so complex, so unattainable, you even begin to doubt yourself. It’s hard to put into words what the keynote provided me. I needed it. It helped me reconnect with My Why.
The notes, tweets (#zedrocks2015), pics (selfies) etc do not do this keynote justice. Kevin shared many stories of how he inspired his students to rise above problems and challenges. Stories where he was able to connect with students and engage them through use of authentic and relevant learning experiences. His title”Tools and Tactics in the 21st Century” may have led one to think workshop was going to be about technology (unfortunately still viewed as extra in many schools) but instead this was about students and learning and the endless opportunities we have to connect with them and inspire them! And what was exciting? Our entire staff was there! If anyone left that room – uninspired – they need to seriously have an edu “soul selfie” reality check. I heard so much feedback from staff ready to put themselves “out there” for the sake of our kids. All kids. The energy in the room was awesome. I was so engaged, hours seemed like minutes.
I have been at the TIES conference (MN Tech Conference) with a small group of teachers through similar keynotes. Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao. This was just as inspiring as all of those talks – with a couple of exceptions:
- These stories came directly from the classroom – Kevin’s classroom. He shared stories of self perseverance and grit both personally, professionally as an educator. Because of this, and his belief in ALL students, he made an incredible impact on kids… his students. What he shared is obtainable. Where there is a will, there is a way!
- Everyone (my teachers and administrators) was in the room! HOORAY! Thanks ZED!
Take aways for me –
- We can’t afford to have “secret geniuses” in our classrooms. We have so much talent. So much talent that we can learn from right in the walls of our schools. I sincerely believe, in every room, every teacher has talent they can bring to the table! Yet some teachers are fearful of sharing. Many times fearful of sharing with their own peers, their own teams. Many times the “crazy ones” (Kevin referred to – see video below) are left to quietly innovate in their classrooms. Why? I honestly think it’s a mindset issue. Instead of feeling threatened by the success of others – Shouldnt we be inspired to learn from one another? And to the educators who feel they have no one to turn to, lets talk about helping you create your personal learning network (PLN). There is a whole lot of crazies out there just waiting to support you and celebrate your work! (Including this crazy – @jenhegna)
- Administrators and Teachers need to spread (and be supported/encouraged) their messages and stories of what is working with kids. On top of that – add the student voice to these successes and people will listen. We need to get our parents talking, our communities talking because politicians don’t get it and because they are policy makers they drastically need to be educated! Spreading these message of great teaching – has never been easier. Within minutes – anyone of us can publish a story. Anyone can start a movement!
- The last take away was “we need to bend to system to fit our kids, not bend kids to fit our system”. There is a lot of depth in that quote. What are the passions and talents of our kids? How can we connect those to curriculum? There should not be a one shot one way of showing what kids know. Our kids have incredible talents and passions (that we can hopefully cultivate to talents). Let’s make learning real and relevant for them. Killer App of the 21st century? Learning to Love to Learn!
Are you ready to get a little crazy?