Friends, I attended an AMAZING conference this week at Southeast Missouri State University. CORE Academy gave teachers the opportunity to hear Ron Clark and George Couros deliver powerful keynotes … that’s right, I said RON CLARK AND GEORGE COUROS. I found myself laughing and tweeting and reflecting like a madwoman throughout their presentations, and left the conference feeling inspired, encouraged, and validated in my teaching practices. I’m still processing the fabulous information, but here are some of my big takeaways from this fabulous conference:
Social Media = New Literacy
This is most definitely true! At the start of his keynote, George Couros shared a hashtag and his Twitter handle and encouraged all of us to tweet thoughts throughout his presentation. He then said that if people in the audience were totally unfamiliar with what he was saying, then they are becoming illiterate. SO MUCH TRUTH! Social media is EVERYWHERE and, like technology, it is not going away. An example from a student was extremely powerful, “social media is like water. You can either teach us to swim or let us drown.” Holy moly. This is so accurate and the fact that this idea came from a student makes it all the more important. Our students are growing up in a world connected by social media. They look to us as their teachers to guide them through the sometimes murky, sometimes pristine waters of social media. If we pretend that social media doesn’t exist or is worst thing to hit humanity since the Black Death, we are not only doing ourselves a huge disservice as educators (you can learn so much from social media!), but we’re also failing our students. My daughters, who are 6 and 4, will never not know a time where they can take a funny picture and Mommy can send it to Grandma and Papa or post in on Facebook so all of our family and friends can see it. Our students are growing up in this same climate. We can either ignore the truth of this new environment or we can help them learn to navigate social media and use it for GOOD, not for evil!
Relationships are KEY
In addition to George Couros and Ron Clark, I also attended a breakout session by Josh Stumpenhorst – I’m telling you, this conference was AMAZING! One huge emphasis in this presentation was the importance of relationship building with our students. Classroom management problems most likely come from one of two sources: lack of engagement in your lesson and/or less than great relationships with our students. I was reminded of the importance of relationships again during the #DitchBook Twitter chat last night – see, Twitter is AWESOME! In his book, Ditch That Textbook, Matt Miller describes how he rejects the “be your students’ friend” warning … showing students that you care about them as a person and are rooting for them to be successful is a powerful thing! I genuinely hope that my students see that I care about their success, not just in my classroom, but in their lives, as well.
I’m still reeling from the sheer awesomeness of this conference, and will definitely report back soon! What conferences have you attended so far this summer? Be sure to share your reflections! Share on Twitter! Tag me so I can learn from you!