When I attend these "big" education conferences in this new world of education, I feel like such an introvert. I'm overwhelmed by all these people with grand ideas, doing awesome things for and with students, and usually feel like I'm not doing enough, just following behind the wave, etc. I also feel like my 6th grade self had I ever met Joey McIntyre; totally star struck by the "Twitter rock stars," as I call them, with whom I come into contact and even have conversations (when I can work up the nerve) at a conference like this. Even my husband commented on my wallflower-ness at places like this, knowing that I'm usually the social butterfly. It's weird but it's also something I can't help.
I attended a number of sessions, some I stayed through and some I bounced out of. I took a lot of notes and got some great resources; I sure hope I'm teaching media again next year so I can put to use what I learned from the Mozilla folks at Session 2. In the first session, I went to a session called The Closer Citizen: Linking Close Reading to a Careful Analysis Of Media and Our Lives, the focus of which was using "close reading" of a text, be the text actual text or a media text, to determine meaning. A man sitting next to me asked first our small group and then the presenter how this method is different from teaching reading comprehension; I didn't really get a clear answer from the presenter but I think it could be really effective for building analysis at the high school level and better help students dig beyond the literal meaning of a text. Just another thing to keep in the back pocket... and this is definitely not a strong point of mine so I need tools in my back pocket to help me.
My second session was the previously mentioned session with Mozilla and The National Literacy Project. This was a great session about building media literacy and also fluency. We were supposed to do some group work, but my whole table left right as that piece began (I guess I smell!), so the session leader came over and engaged me in conversation; she asked what I'd come to the session to learn and I told her about my media class, how I'd like to move from media analysis to media creation, and she gave me a bunch of links to help me help my class do that:
Even if I'm not teaching a media class next year, these tools and lessons are certainly ones I can use in my history classroom, so that's a definite good thing (though I really hope to be teaching media again next year!!)
By the time the third session rolled around, I was in full on what I call "A.D.D. mode." I was having a really hard time sitting still and focusing. There had been a lot of sitting and listening and talking and I was pretty fried. The last session was about Formative Assessments, but I hadn't really figured out what I was supposed to be learning halfway through the session. I definitely needed something more sequential at that point in the day, so I headed to another session. Unfortunately, people were doing independent work there and no discussion was happening. So, up I went again. This time, I went into a conversation but, like I said, I was fried and having real trouble focusing.
We then went to dinner with some friends and had a lot of conversation, but instead of going out for all the partying some folks did, I fell asleep at the hotel room around 9:30. Total rock star here.
I come out of a conference like this feeling both energized and feeling like there are others who think like I do and are pushing boundaries way further than I can ever imagine but also I feel a real big sense of dissonance. A lot of the folks here are making really big changes in education--they are teacher leaders, they are administrators, they have the power to effect real change. After a thing like this, I feel so powerless to make change beyond the walls of my classroom (and even then, I feel like I'm totally doing the wrong thing by making these changes within my classroom walls since I'm usually in trouble). I have to learn/figure out how to make change the right way and not do it in a way that makes me feel like an island (Iceberg, right ahead!) AND in a way that doesn't get me into trouble!