Last week’s experience of attending the Connect 2017 conference, was a powerful one. Meeting Brian Aspinall and going to Fair Chance Learning‘s Ignite Niagara Event was so inspiring. The passion and energy filled the room. I was already following Brian Aspinall on Twitter so seeing him and meeting him in person made me dig deeper into what he’s been doing especially in regards to computational thinking. This brought me to his Carpool Karaoke EDU Edition which encouraged me to make my own, because I too like to be silly and I personally feel that as a teacher, I sometimes take myself way too seriously. It’s far from perfect, unedited and definitely mediocre in comparison to Brian’s karaoke, but hey- I had fun with it. For the record – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody could not have come at a better time! It was NOT planned (obviously) because I had NO idea what the second song was, but lucky for me, most things I wing turn out alright! I couldn’t have planned that better myself if I could- and those who know me know that (most times) I’m a planner.
Here’s to my first official vlog post! Thanks Brian, for making me laugh, learn and live a little. What other risks will I be taking this year?!
This blog post is co-written by best friends, Nycol Didcote and Annick Rauch after attending Connect 2017 in Niagara Falls.
At the beginning of the school year, we were searching for a conference to attend which would be worthwhile… so, we decided to ask for advice from someone who knows his way around conferences: George Couros. We had certain restrictions, and with those in mind, he suggested Connect 2017. After we both got approved to attend the conference, we started planning! Last Tuesday morning, we boarded our plane and off we went! Although the falls and attractions were truly breathtaking, and spending 6 days together was so recharging, what we appreciated more than most people will ever understand was being together, exploring and expanding our passions with so many other amazing educators. Here are the treasures that we found at Connect 2017:
- Meeting educators who we’ve been following on Twitter and hearing them speak was powerful. We were actually quite giddy to connect face to face with Jennifer Casa-Todd, Tiffany Poirier, and Brian Aspinall. Although meeting these inspiring educators was nothing short of amazing, what was even more remarkable was how extremely, kind, welcoming, and down to earth they all were. What a touching experience.
- Jennifer’s message regarding why, how, and when we should address digital citizenship in context really resonated with us. It is so important for students to become digital leaders from a young age so that their digital footprint is a positive one.
- Tiffany’s inspiring keynote focused on the importance of big questions as well as all types of questions asked within the classroom. We cannot find the answers to our questions without first knowing them. Allow questions to lead you and your students’ growth!
- Brian’s passion exuded while he spoke of the importance of computational thinking. His numerous examples showcased how simple and effective integrating coding in all subject areas can be. Computer programming is a new way of communicating with an audience and is a new language that is essential and relevant in today’s world.
- Attending Ignite Niagara allowed us to listen in on what other innovative educators are doing in their classrooms in a super casual and laid back setting. It was so energizing to be in the same room as so many passionate educators which proved to ignite many deep and worthwhile conversations. What a fantastic night: educators leading, learning, and laughing! In the words of Jonathan So, “Be with people who make you better”. It’s safe to say that we were definitely in good company!
Although we were attending a technology conference, we noticed that our greatest takeaways were all based on passion, people and relationships. After all, as Brian said, “Education is a Human System” and we believe that human connection is at the forefront of learning. Witnessing the passion that drives these speakers forward is contagious and directly impacts educators, which in turn impacts their students, and their colleagues.
We’ll never know to which degree we’ve influenced and inspired our students. Our hope is that they will become leaders for positive change because we’ve connected with their hearts and allowed their minds to work on problems that are important to them. As Shiza Shahid said, “The power of education is the world’s greatest equalizer”. We must first understand inequalities and see room for improvement, as well as the potential in others by connecting with each other, in order to achieve this ideal.
Having the opportunity to spend close to a week in Niagara Falls with my best friend @AnnickRauch has been invigorating for me on many levels. First, we are attending a four day conference together (#CanConnectEd) on technology. Our numerous workshops, keynotes and networking with colleagues has been a great way for us to add a notch to our teacher tool belts. Also, it’s always uplifting to learn from others and incorporate new ideas and tools to our teaching, as learning is one of our passions. Annick’s quote from George Couros in her recent blog post titled You Are Not Alone was on point and hit the mark for me,”Isolation is now a choice educators make.” This conference and its name alone says it all. We should be connecting with people around the globe and sharing our learning with others, in any and all forms. This is true both inside and outside of our buildings. Having said that, our districts couldn’t agree more. There is a reason there are funds allotted to PD. I, for one, fully take advantage of opportunities to learn and grow. What an exhilarating experience to be able to do so in Niagara alongside my best friend.
It’s also exciting to bring new ideas and possibilities to our current schools and furthermore, bring them to the school we’ll both be teaching in this coming September. Having someone to bounce ideas off of is always ideal.
I am also incredibly grateful to my division who has allowed me to grow and bring back tangible and practical ideas and resources to our school. This conference has also allowed me take time for me and spend quality time reconnecting and reflecting with friends. It’s also amazing to step out without children and live a little, which in turn will make me a better mom and a better teacher. It’s a win-win in my books! As a mom, most times my kids end up having my first and last bites of dessert. Here, I can sit back, breathe, eat a warm meal, not clean any dishes and eat my cake too, down to the very last crumb (rather than sweeping up the million crumbs on the floor after a family meal!). It’s so awesome to spend a few days exploring a new city, learning and laughing. We should all embrace opportunities and allow this for ourselves, without guilt or worry of what others may think.
Thank you to all the teachers and speakers who have shared their thinking and purpose with us. I can only imagine how difficult it is to be away from your own families time and time again. I always find it ironic how my me-time takes away from your own. I hope you get to enjoy all of what Niagara has to offer, both in attractions and in beauty.
As Annick mentioned in her latest post, you’re not alone or at least you don’t have to be (if you don’t want to be). We are all connected or at least can be in some way, shape or form. One thing I do know for sure is we can all learn a lot from living a little. 🙂