I just returned from the EL Education National Conference in Chicago, IL. My head is full and I left inspired. Here are some of my takeaways.
- Passion and dedication are contagious. There were over 1,300 attendees at this conference. It's almost impossible to leave without your tank being filled.
- Small things are powerful. Be Vulnerable, Be Authentic, Be You. One of the schools shared a project where they had students create buttons to say the things that are often unsaid. Schools, at their foundation, should be places where kids can be themselves and where empathy can be cultivated. My button reads - Be Vulnerable, Be Authentic, Be You.
- There's a reason why Chicago pizza is famous. Each time we've been to Chicago deep-dish pizza ends up on the menu. Giordano's did not disappoint.
- It's important to empower students to drive/own their assessment and reflection. This is a skill that pays off over a lifetime. Students who can self-assess and take corrective action are set up for lifelong success.
- Incorporating art expands learning and helps it stick. Using art in math and science slows the learning process down and encourages students to attack skills and content from different angles.
- Restorative practices are healing for all parties involved and a great pathway to building empathy. I am excited to bring some of these practices to my school.
- There is power in a circle. In EL Education circles are everywhere. They provide the spaces for readings, greetings, and courageous conversations.
- Upping your "sneaker game" is a great way to connect. One of the presenters showed how he used his sneakers placed in a circle to stay connected to his students during the heart of the pandemic. I may get a new pair of sneakers, but mostly this reminds me of the power of connections.
- Podcasting is engaging. I listened to a podcast created by students as they learned about the science of climate change. Their work was polished. Learning was obvious and their final product was an act of community service.
- Unearthing Joy: A Guide to Culturally and Historically Responsive Teaching and Learning by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad is a book I want to read. Dr. Muhammad was the keynote speaker. She encouraged us all to look for joy and genius in teaching and in all of our students.
- Kids can pretty much run the show when given the chance and adequate support. The opening and closing events were led entirely by students of all ages. They were energetic and professional. I left hopeful for the future.
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