Educon 2.4 Takeways

Educon 2.4 was a unique conference experience because it’s more a conversation than a typical conference of presentation after presentation. Many of our conversations continued at lunch, dinner, during breaks and on Twitter.

 The backdrop was the Science Leadership Academy, an inquiry-based, student-centered public school that has an extremely diverse and eclectic student population. The word “community” is an obvious part of the school’s culture and the students were very much a part of the Educon experience as they served as guides, conversation facilitators, and tech crew.

 I spent quite a bit of time reflecting about my three days at Educon and have come away with several key takeaways to think about:  

  1. Ask “what if?”– We often have the case of the “yeah, buts” when new ideas are shared instead of thinking about possible ways to make something happen. Have you ever said, “Yeah, that’s a good idea, but…..” followed by a list of reasons why a particular idea won’t work. Creativity and problem solving are stifled before given a fair chance to cultivate into something meaningful.
  2.  “Why should I use it?”-When sharing a new web 2.0 tool, such as Twitter, Diigo, or Google Docs explain how it can make one’s life easier before sharing what it is. We often get caught up in the excitement or “cool factor” of a new tool and leave out why and how the new technology can increase efficiency and productivity. Time is at a premium for everyone these days and there are a number of tools we can learn to use in the classroom and share with our students to capture time. The more we share with them and explain “the how” the more prepared they will be to thrive in an ever changing future. 
  3.  “Culture matters”– Innovation is a not a “flash in the pan experience,” but a process that occurs over time. We have to create and maintain a culture at GLHS that makes risk taking and failure safe for our students and each other. A part of the learning process is failure with a chance to recover and reflect. 
  4. “Be Resilient!”– Resilience is defined as the ability to cope with stress or anxiety. We live in a pressure cooker as educators and the release seems a far way away.Therefore, we have to review our systems and ask how we are adding to our own stress and students’ stress. For example, we assign projects, papers, presentations, and performances at the same time and expect quality work from our students. We have hard deadlines because we are teaching responsibility. Yet, do we take into consideration the scope of a student’s entire day at school? I constantly push my staff to “try this new tool,” “read this article,” “review your grading practices…” on top of the other general demands of being an educator. It’s no wonder we are so tired and on cognitive overload. What in our system, that’s within our control, can we change to provide time for us to talk with one another and give our students time to work, breathe, and decompress?  
  5.  “Tech Savvy”-Being a tech-savvy educator is more about a willingness to learn, share, fail and reflect than mastering a particular tool. Embracing technology is an example of one’s desire to learn new ways to make learning more engaging and relevant to our students. The phrase, “I don’t do technology” is not only unacceptable, but it’s a declaration that “I’m done learning.” If we are not willing to learn then we are not willing to help our students learn. It seems we see new tools daily, so mastering a tool is maybe not the best approach. 
  6. “Laser-like focus”– Upon entering the Science Leadership Academy, the mission, core values, guiding principles, and rules were posted everywhere and recited by every member of the school community. More importantly, they were evident in the way the school functions. “Recite” is not the best word choice here because it conveys a message of memorization as opposed to belief. They believe in what they are doing. They not only share a common belief, but a common language that provides clarity of purpose. Whether talking to the principal, Chris Lehmann, a teacher, freshman tour guide, or senior facilitator, each spoke confidently and clearly about what the school is all about:

           Mission-How do we learn? How can we create? What does it mean to lead?

           Core Values– Inquiry, Research, Collaboration, Presentation, and Reflection

           Rules-Respect yourself, Respect Others, Respect the Learning Environment         

So, I had to ask myself, “If someone asked me what our core beliefs are, would my answer match that of a department chairperson, first year teacher, secretary, or student of any grade level? It’s something we all should think about and discuss within our school communities.  

Be Great,


6 thoughts on “Educon 2.4 Takeways

  1. Dwight,

    I have been working and writing a lot about shifting our thinking from strategic planning to value proposition, as VP forces us to ask and answer that same question: how would a teacher, dep’t chair, principal, and head of school all answer the question: “how do I contribute to our value proposition?” It really makes us ask some new questions in new ways.

  2. Dwight,
    Great blog! It was a real pleasure connecting with you on a deeper professional level at EduCon 2.4!

    I also took away the value of culture. If we are given a chance to reflect and reevaluate after failure, we really arent failing unless we dont learn from our experience.

    I also took away the value of relationships. Students dont care how much you know if they dont know how much you care. If we take the time to build relationships some of those other ‘problems’ just might go away.

    Thanks for sharing! Matt

  3. I continue to believe that the GJPS Graduate Profile is our best document to use as a center for all discussions about mission and core values. In the near future, I hope it doesn’t become an archived list of statements as new ideas come along.

  4. Grant,

    Thanks for commenting. I’ll have to look into “value proposition.” It sounds like a way to stay grounded on what’s important for any organization, be it a school or any time of business.

    Be Great,


  5. Matt,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment! It was good talking with you at Educon. Out of everything that we discussed at Educon, culture really hit home with me. The culture that is created in the classroom and school community as a whole has a significant impact on the overwhelm well being of teachers and students. I think about about the 3 Rs- Relationships, Rigor, Relevance. I put relationships first because as you said, “they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

    Be Great,


  6. Linda,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this post and for commenting! I believe the Graduate Profile captures our vision as a district and will continue to become an embedded part of our schools’ culture. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to view it as our core values, but since you, Kevin, Kit, and a couple of others mentioned some of the skills described in the profile, it’s evident that it guides our behavior. As new ideas come along we have to measure the validity of these ideas against the Profile. If we are not able to answer if what’s new will help help us live up to the Profile strands, then the idea is not for us.

    Be Great,


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