Today I feel like a foreign correspondent. Usually, I pen my blog posts from the comfort of my home couch after several days of reflection and pondering. Today I’m writing In The Moment! Straight To You, The Reader!
Today I’m attending the ECET2 Puget Sound Convening.
How do you say ECET2, you might ask?
But what does it mean, you might ask?
Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers
An ECET2 convening is an event planned by teachers, for teachers. I know, because I was on the planning committee. Our first planning session focused on what teachers need to feel empowered and successful? What is a positive way to celebrate the great things teachers are doing? How can we appreciate teachers and give them a network of support to continue the good work?
An ECET2 convening has 2 components that you’d typically see at any other education conference: Keynote speakers and breakout sessions. The one thing that makes ECET2 different is the Colleague Circles. These are discussion groups surrounding a participant-chosen problem of practice. And the Colleague Circle is not a complaining session. It’s a chance to be heard, as well as move on to manageable solutions. The Colleague Circles are lead by teacher leaders like myself.
The day started with hugs, smiles, and people connecting with each other. Education is a small town, and it’s fun to see people from my past. (Can I also say here, that at ECET2, they feed us well and the coffee is good. How often do you get that at an education conference!?)
The morning keynote speaker, Amy Abrams (2014 Puget Sound Region Teacher of the Year) brought tears to my eyes as she told the story of a teacher who almost crushed her spirit. Instead of listening to this teacher tell her she was a horrible child, she decided to become a teacher. She reminded me it’s my job to inspire a student, to learn who they are, to know them as a person.
In the morning I lead the first part of a Colleague Circle. How refreshing to listen to teachers without an agenda, to let ideas flow, to allow personal and professional reflection! How powerful to call upon our varied backgrounds to collaborate, support, and listen.
My morning input session I attended. was about teacher Professional Learning from Chris Crouch (all the way from Kentucky!!!) It’s challenging me to think about the learning opportunities we offer the teachers at my building. Is it meaningful? Is it timely? Is blanketed in colleague support? We talked about the benefits of using video for professional development. Chris led this session using the voices of our group and posting ideas, creating a dialogue. Powerful.
The afternoon breakout session I attended, lead by fellow blogger Lindsey Stephens, focused on Creating Student Centered Classrooms. You can find the materials she used (and my favorite, the Silent Conversation) here. Thanks Lindsey!
After the afternoon breakout session, I’m beginning to regret the planning committee’s decision to have an 8 hour day. My brain is full, my eyes are bleary, and my seat is glued to my chair. If we plan another one of these, I’d advocate for a little yoga, meditation, or spa therapy/reflection session in the afternoon. I know I can power through to my favorite speaker and colleague, Nate Gibbs-Bowling.
After an invigorating snack (veggies AND chocolate offered!), and Colleague Circle, I’m ready to continue the day.
Lincoln High School teacher Nathan Gibbs-Bowling asked a question I thought would be easy to answer: If you could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for K-12 education. My answer: end poverty so students come to school well fed, well cared for, well prepared. I teared up thinking about this possibility. Nate challenges me to use my voice to make positive change in education. To learn more about his thoughts about Transformative Change, check out the organization he’s involved with: Teachers United. His challenge: if not you, who? Teaching is the one profession that changes lives. Use your voice. Inspiring!
As the day wraps up, I’m so inspired by the colleagues in my circle, who I’ve heard, who I’ve had the pleasure to meet. What a great experience.