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?
The first ECET2 event I attended was last fall in SeaTac, WA. Today I’m at the beautiful Center for Urban Horticultural at University of Washington.
If you’re a teacher, you know the thing that makes or breaks a conference is the food. Keep us fed, and we’re happy. After chatting with colleagues and seeing people I haven’t seen in months, I am treated to a delicious breakfast and fresh coffee.
Inspiration follows with a talk from Kristin Leong. She tells me teaching is rewarding and challenges her to truly listen. I stop typing and tweeting because she is passionate and tells a story with passion. She says the best part about being a teacher is “I get to see kids blow away expectations”. True!
Following the opening session, we break out into Colleague Circles. Colleague Circles are groups of 10-20 peer teacher leaders who meet virtually and/or in the real world to support, encourage and learn from each other. The goal is to create a valuable forum that members can’t find elsewhere. Our Colleague Circle consisted of 4 teachers from around the state. We discussed issues surrounding meaningful professional development. Even though we come from different districts, we face similar issues. 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!
Next, it’s time for snacks! Again!! My breakfast isn’t even finished yet.
For the morning breakout session, I choose Design Thinking. The presenters are high energy and just what I need mid-morning. The session on Design Thinking asks: How might we support keeping energy positive and healthy throughout the school day? We participate in a series of creative thinking exercises to make our thinking more divergent (‘challenge by choice’). In Design Thinking, brainstorming is called “Ideate”. Then we brainstorm as a whole group and create a physical model of the solution. This is a pix of our Teacher Spa designed to improve positivity and energy in the staff room.
Now I’m off to lunch (more food!!) with a poetry performance from student Niki Amini-Naini, and a ukelele performance from student Star Matsukawa, and an inspirational talk from Teacher of the Year Lyon Terry. Lyon Terry reminds us that we need to be ourselves in our classroom. Our passions, mistakes, and visible learning make us approachable to our students. He reminds me what we truly want our students to achieve at the end of the year (hint, it’s NOT high test scores).
My afternoon session is Brain/Body Movement for the Classroom with Eric Lofstrom from Kent. This is just what I need in the afternoon, after lunch. He shared some calming movements called Brain Gym Activities. I feel energized and relaxed already. I’m planning on taking some of these activities and using them in my small reading groups, and perhaps with staff.
Following another snack break (more food!!!), I joined my colleague circle. We discussed more in depth a problem of practice. How lovely it was to sit outside in the garden and talk about solutions to problems, rather than admiring the problem or complaining.
The day ended with an inspirational and touching talk by Shannon Francisco-Papcun from Sumner School District.
Thank you to Brooke Perry and Alisa Louie for organizing the event and the Colleague Circles. I’m leaving with my teacher brain turned on, excited to begin the new year, and energized to get back to the good work that is teaching.