|Photo Credit: ushtey via Compfight cc|
I have been fortunate enough to have attended all the previous sessions and with that experience I can say that last Wednesday's session was different than the others. Now please, don't get me wrong, they have all been equally engaging and inspiring but this one was just a little different. You see something IS happening in my school district. Change IS happening. People ARE getting excited. Conversations ARE happening. This was clearly visible on Wednesday night.
We started the evening off with a presentation by Brette Galy. She shared some of the ways she is using technology as an early literacy teacher. Both before and after her presentation the room was given questions to discuss, and discuss people did. I wish I had written down the questions because they really got people talking.
After Brette's presentation we listened to Michel Gagnon. He spoke about how technology is transforming his high school teaching. Again after his presentation more questions were given to the audience, and more buzz followed.
Both presentation were really good and I think they opened the eyes of many educators wondering what they could do with access to technology. What was great was that these two teachers are new to using technology as a tool in their teaching practice. Good teachers, doing good things, but now utilizing technology to get there. I don't know if it was because of what they were doing is doable by others, or the questions that we were asked to discuss before or after their presentations, but people in the room were motivated and engaged. And this was all before the keynote speaker spoke.
Fast forward through dinner and it's time for Bill Ferriter to take the stage. Our School District twitter feed #sd36learn was projected onto a big screen for everyone to see. It was flying with tweets, apparently trending globally.
Bill started with encouraging us to change from being a "yah but" teacher, to becoming a "what if" teacher. To see the possible when others around us are making excuses. He inspired us all with what he is doing with his classes. He, like Shelley Wright, encouraged us to make sure that our students are doing meaningful work. He shared the Kiva organization with us, and I'm sure inspired many (including me) to lend money to those in third world countries trying to do something to better themselves. What he did was totally doable for many of us in our school district. He made it look easy and even offered to have his students Skype into our classrooms, talk about the project, and give us a $25 gift card to help get us started. I hope some have taken him up on that offer.
Another thing that was cool about the evening is that some of the upper leaders of my School District were in the room. Both Jordan Tinney and Mike McKay were there to witness the excitement and transformations that are happening in our school district. I can only imagine that leading the largest district in the province is a time demanding job, but as one of the little people in the district it meant a lot to me to see these important leaders at this function. There were close to 300 educators in the room, and there would have been even more if there was space for them. I also know that a lot of money has been put into supporting innovative grant proposals, and so it was good for them to see the good things are happening because of these investments. It was good for all of us to see this. Surrey is making incredible changes. That was very clear in the twitter feed and the conversations and sharing happening throughout the room. I'm glad the upper management was there to see this excitement.
There were also other guests in the room from other local school districts. I love that about Surrey. While we are the largest district in British Columbia, and our Director of Instruction Elisa Carlson has a mission to transform education, we know that we can not do it alone. I love that my district believes just as strongly in being connected as I do.
I don't know exactly what it was but Wednesday night was an awe inspiring evening. Change is often slow to start, but I really think Surrey is heading in the right direction and it's super exciting to be a part of it. Watch out, you just never know where we are headed.