Today was the first of hopefully many #Rewire conferences held at Tabernacle Middle School in NJ. This felt like an EdCamp on steroids. I saw a boatload of local educators who I truly respect and feed off of their energy and love. That idea can’t be accentuated enough. Local educational leaders who are passionate and innovative breaking bread benefits all of New Jersey. This conference felt like South Jersey had sent out an educator beacon call and everyone came running. I caught up with old friends, met some new ones, and strengthened relationships throughout the day. We speak about how important relationships are with students yet we rarely speak about how important it is to keep in touch with local educators outside our school districts.
The part that amazes me is that Barry Saide and Glenn Robbins were able to team up with On Course Systems and Nutri-Serve to fly presenters in as well as get the food covered. The genius of this can not be understated. One small detail that I would like to highlight is that every presenter came for free! They gave up their time at no cost to the taxpayers or the conference. The conference was FREE! How many more barriers could Glenn and Barry remove for us?
There were too many fantastic sessions for me to choose from. The first session I attended was lead by Eric Russo. It was titled Learning to Ride: Supporting Rigor for All Students. In the presentation, we discussed the idea of a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. This is nothing new nor groundbreaking but he did have feedback that had two columns. The one column said something akin to mastered the second column said not yet.
That gentle switch of phrasing made me think of a blog that Andy Milne just published today about how a simple change of phrasing can have a huge impact. Check out this part of Andy’s Blog:
A second study was created was created in which three groups of women were created and told to set a health and wellness goal. When faced with the temptation to break their goal one group was told to “just say no”. A second group was told to say “I can’t”, while the third group were told to say “I don’t”. The results were impressive!
- Group 1 had a success rate of 30% (just say no)
- Group 2 had a success rate of 10% (I can’t)
- Group 3 had a success rate of 80% (I don’t)
The theory behind this simple linguistic change is that when our students say “I can’t drink alcohol because it breaks academic code” they are reminding themselves that their behavior is being constrained. Effectively they are suggesting to themselves that they are being forced to do something.
When our students say “I don’t drink alcohol because it might affect my grades” they are reminding themselves that they are in control over the situation presented to them.
What is the impact when we use Eric’s idea and give feedback that says not yet instead of F or no or needs improvement? That subtle change could be huge. It is something worth looking into for sure.
My favorite session was given by Ira Socol and Pam Moran. I have followed Ira for years and knew I would learn a ton. I did not know Pam but it was clear from the beginning that she was no slouch in her own right. She came into the room and interacted with the crowd right away. She was instantly likable and obviously extroverted. Together they worked really well. Ira seemed like he may have a tendency to pontificate and Pam knew what needed to get done and how to reign him back in. She was able to redirect him as well as provide fantastic content on her own.
Their session was titled Creating a Timeless Learning Culture. I loved how Ira and Pam were able to highlight some of the history of education and tie it to the present time. The idea of timeless learning is:
“…use progressive design principles to inform pathways to disrupt traditions of education today and show you how to make innovations real that will have a timeless and meaningful impact on students, keeping alive the natural curiosity and passion for learning with which children enter school.” link
My favorite activity was when we pretended to know nothing about earth or education and we had to describe what kids in a line looked like. Most of the students’ arms were behind their backs. They pushed us further and asked when as adults we were in lines and why? What would it look like if we got rid of lines? My favorite part is that there are some very useful reasons for lines. We don’t have to swing the pendulum fully! The thought activity did help you get ready to be critical of anything and everything in school. We need to be our own best and worst critics of education if we plan on making meaningful change.
Dr. Jamil Maroun. If you see this man talk to him. Enter his network because he is fire. The day was great but his talk had my soul jumping. Jamil starts off with his family story. his parents immigrated to America with $250 they borrowed from their friends and they struggled but were able to live. he spoke about how tight he was with his family and his 95-year-old “girlfriend”. So far I am engaged and want to see where his story goes.
As he talks about his journey and his goal he drops this bombshell. “He never saw a baby born with boots on.” And goes on to explain how no one succeeds without the help of others in their lives. Bootstrap theory debunked with one statement. This was the greatest statement of the day, of the month, of the year! I never saw a baby born with boots on. Mic drop he’s out right?
Nope. He then goes on to explain how as a country we are losing our humanity. He showed pictures of kids from war-torn countries covered in blood and dirt. It was hard to watch. It pales in comparison to what reality is for those kids though. Jamil is Lebanese and he had family members harmed during what I believe was the “2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War”. link
I have just been learning more about Palestine and Isreal and realizing that as a country the United States is currently doing, and has done in the past, a lot of things that have harmed people that the average citizens know nothing about. We can’t continue to ignore the world that we are supposed to be bringing into our classrooms.
His final message was one of love for this country. It was clear that he loves America enough to want it to be better. He is proof that you can come to this country and succeed. It is possible but it takes a lot of people and some luck.
A agree with Jamil. Our humanity needs to be brought back. People are reduced to numbers. We cut medicare yet increase the military. We have no money for education yet give the banks millions. We have lost sight of the fact that people are being harmed by cuts to social programs and education. We need to get back to believing that we should be helping every person in this country not just the few and the elite.
I will finish with my favorite sections called Glows and Grows:
Glows: Nutri-serve and On Course Systems coming on board to help with cost!
Glows: The presenters were fantastic.
Glows: Tabernacle middle school was a great site.
Grow: The attendance was very passably white. I know every superintendent in Burlington County received information about this but there has to be a way of getting more teachers of color represented. I don’t know the answer but if you can run a conference on no money and you want this to happen there is no way Glenn and Barry can’t find a way.
Glow: The idea of Moonshot presenters being picked that day
Glow: The Imagineering room at Tabernacle!
Grow: Glenn’s suit. SMH
Glow: The conference. What an amazing event. And there is a whole other day tomorrow.