This weekend I got to experience my first intearction with CUE (Computer Using Educators)with Fall CUE at American Canyon High School. First and foremost, if you have never been to AmCam, it is well worth the visit. It is one of the most beautiful high school campuses I have ever seen.
Along with this, I was able to meet, face-to-face, many amazing educators that I have either interacted with or followed digitally for quite some time. The likes of Eric Saibel, Jennifer Kloczko, Ali deGuia, Bill Selak, and Rachel Diephouse. As well as this, I was able to re-connect with some of my favorite people I have met in California (Kenneth Durham, Sergio Villegas, and Amy Fadeji I’m talking about you!) and make brand new connections! Being my first Fall CUE, I walked away with a couple main reflections:
One of the first things I learned awhile back was how important it is to define your learning before attending a conference. Whether it be going to sessions with a specific purpose in mind, or whether it be for an overarching theme, it is vital you identify what learning you take away. At Fall CUE, I focused the majority of my efforts on PD and staff development. I started my conference with Kristen Swanson, from Edcamp, looking at personalizing professional development and moved throughout the weekend examining what it means to be the lead learner with Anne Schaefer Salinas. By focusing on a path, I was able to easily connect what I was learning to a goal and a purpose.
2. Don’t Rely in Just Sessions
I had two great conversations this weekend around this idea, one with Sergio Villegas and one with Kenneth Durham. Sergio is the Vice President of North Bay CUE and they sponsored an amazing after party at Napa Smith Brewery. Sergio was shamelessly plugging the event all day on Friday, but with a purpose: the great conversations we have don’t just have to stay at the conference. Secondly, walking to our cars, Kenneth and talked about what we get out of conferences and we both agreed we desire more dialogue. Sessions where you learn a specific tool or skill are valuable and have their place, but being able to learn from a breadth of educators can be inspiring. The take away from both of these: don’t just rely on what you learn in sessions to be a learner. Fall CUE created amply opportunity for this to happen.
3. Circles of Innovation
I was blown away by what Todd Feinberg was able to accomplish. He brought about 10 teachers from his school to Fall CUE! How incredible is that. I love conferences and find them so interesting, but sometimes I feel like I get stuck in the same circle of innovation. For the majority of people at conferences, they WANT to be there. Many attend all of the amazing opportunities presented their way and are all in when it comes to growing teaching and learning. Todd provides a great example of setting a strong context for learning at a conference like Fall CUE. By bringing so many teachers from the same school, the excitement and energy they bring back can help but be contagious. It is so important that we are constantly bringing new people, or for that case, hesitant people, into our circles. In order to get someone to grow, you have to get them to places that will challenge them to grow and more of this needs to happen!