Saturday, July 11, 2015

Reflections on a Summer of Learning, 2015

My mind is full, my heart is overflowing, and I have a sense of gratefulness for the wonderful learning opportunities at various conferences I've had this summer! Those of you who know me, capturing a picture of the people and experiences I'm involved in is something I love to do! "A picture is worth a thousand words" and with over 500 pictures from this summer, there's about half a million words my phone's camera roll could share.  While I couldn't even begin to write that much, I want to share some of the highlights from the last couple months that have challenged my mind to grow and change.

Members of the Greenwood 50 delegation to #SCASAi3

This June I attended SC's #SCASAi3 conference (South Carolina's Association of School Administrators).  I had asked my boss to attend this conference to help me develop my leadership and administration skills. I most certainly met some phenomenal leaders, John Gordon, Todd Whitaker and Manny Scott are some of the most notable.  By far Sarah Longshore, Tamara Turner, and Shemia Thompson were the most memorable I interacted with.

Hearing the experiences of John Gordon's perseverance, Todd Whitaker's challenge to greatness, and Manny Scott's "survival against all odds" challenged me with new vision and perspectives. I was especially touched by Manny Scott's life story and it immediately provoked me to watch The Freedom Writers and read The Freedom Writer's Diary immediately after the conference.  Just days prior to #SCASAi3, the horrific shootings in Charleston had taken place.  These events, the stories Manny Scott shared in his keynote, and what I learned in my reading later on, allowed me to put on new lenses of empathy and compassion for the issues of race, gangs, and the disappearing family structure our country struggles to deal with.


While these gentlemen were a pleasure to meet, most special to me was the time I spent with three amazing ladies I met on Voxer back in the spring.  I had never met these ladies before the conference, but through the amazing "walkie-talkie" app Voxer, we developed a leadership group that offered advice, encouragement, empathy and much more as we sought to become better leaders in our individual positions of education. I can't say thank you enough to these ladies as well as the others who are a part of the "SC Women Leading Education - PLN" on Voxer!

Kitty Tripp, Shemia Thompson, Sarah Longshore and Tamara Turner

With only one day to repack after #SCASAi3, I headed to the historic city of Philedelphia for learning experiences with "Tomorrow's Classroom Today" #TCT15 and #ISTE2015 (International Society for Technology in Education), the highlight of any instructional technology enthusiast's year! The Evolving Educators, Brad Currie, Scott Rocco, Billy Krakower Jerry Blumengarten and team hosted "Tomorrow's Classroom Today," a one day conference bringing in top technology leaders to share how they currently use technology in their schools and classrooms. I met several new people, but was pleasantly surprised when I met several people who were on a Voxer group I participated in.  The conversations and discussions I had with the Evolving Educators team held meaningfulness not only because of the comradery we had at the conference, but also the continuing development of communication and collaboration built through Twitter and Voxer groups throughout the year. At the end of the day, I could tell this pre-ISTE event was the beginning of a family reunion with so many people I had learned from and grown with throughout this year! 

Billy Krokower, Marcie Hebert, Joann Jacobs and Jerry Blumengarten
#TCT15 after hours gathering

Where do I even begin with my #ISTE2015 many to recount! This was my second ISTE and the first was absolutely amazing! I was apprehensive that maybe the second time around wouldn't be quite as spectacular, but I was absolutely wrong!  ISTE15 simply grew on the amazing experiences I had started in last year's conference but I went to even deeper and richer interactions with those around me!

#CoffeeEDU with Alice Keeler
One event I experienced this year that I never could get myself to last year was #CoffeeEDU hosted by Alice Keeler. With the help of my fabulous roommate Joann Jacobs, we made the 5:45am treks to Starbuck to share in ideas and thoughts about technology in education.  This truly was "the meeting of the minds" as we shared our own experience and thoughts about a myriad of topics. A special thank you to  and  for providing the coffee and snacks that helped fuel these early morning gatherings!
The #CoffeeEdu Crew
Another first time experience I had this ISTE15 was presenting at the EdTech Coaches playground.  This learning environment was perfect for me as I was able to share many of the ideas and strategies I'm using in my school district.  Everyone has a story to tell, and it definitely will be told whether you tell it or not.  I love sharing with people how they can use a variety of tools and social media to make sure the "awesomeness" that is taking place in their classrooms and schools is heard throughout their community and even to educators across the world.  Thank you ISTE and Ruth Okoye for allowing me to be a part of this time of sharing!

Another fulfilling times I had at ISTE15 was spending time with the #4thchat family and friends. This has been a group of educators that I've met through Twitter and collaborated through Twitter chats, projects, and Voxer groups.  Throughout the last four years I've only seen them twice, but the sharing and collaboration we've experienced through various technology tools over the years has influenced my professional life in ways I could never have experienced without these wonderful educators!

An amazing partnership I saw in action at ISTE15 was the connection between Marcie Hebert and Marlon Ng.  Marcie is located in New Orleans while Marlon's location in Hong Kong, but the distance has not stopped them from developing amazing learning opportunities for their students and schools.  This is the type of collaborative relationships I want to help the educators of my district to foster, and I'm grateful to Marcie and Marlon for sharing the wonderful work they're doing!

I could go on and on about the richness and depth of ISTE15, but I could be writing all day. Thank you to my district for allowing me the opportunity of attending this national conference.  A heartfelt thank you to each and every person that spoke into my heart and mind through the various ways you participated in the conference. As I end my post, I think of what Glinda says to Elphaba in the play Wicked, "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good!"

Yikes!  I ran out of room and didn't get to tell you about #2015UTC. Check out the hashtag for some great information about this conference...what a summer! #KeepInspiring!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kitty! Love your enthusiasm! It looks like we missed each other at a few technology conferences recently, ISTE 2014 & 2015 and UTC 2015. I'm going to continue to follow you as I learn and grow more with technology in education. My school has very little resources so we're slowly progressing to more implementation of technology. I have been seeking outside resources independently while sharing with my school. Looking forward to learning more! :-)