“Wow! My head hurts, but in a good way.” How many times did I hear some version of that statement tonight. Yes, it hurts your brain to question what you are doing. It hurts your brain to question what others are saying they are doing. And, it hurts your brain to stand firm on something you truly believe in.
All of those things happened (and more) to my brain today. Actually this pain in my brain started Thursday night as we sat talking inside of Con Murphys, until later than I would have liked, about things related to unstructured classrooms and democratic learning. [Confession: my brain hurt too because the singer was a little loud – I’m getting old, sigh….]
This continued on Friday as I toured the SLA and talked with their incredible students. But the best thing about seeing the SLA is that our students are just like those students. Our classrooms are incredibly similar to the SLA classrooms. I saw presentations and researching with technology. I saw hands on exploration in a Calculus class. [Confession #2: I was told I couldn’t help the students but I did give them a hint about thinking back to their Algebra 2 days and maximizing area of a fenced in pen, sorry]
Then, Friday night, there was a wonderful panel of speakers who challenged our thoughts on Innovation. This later became “the I-word” and was worked into a drinking game but the fact is we were discussing until almost midnight what it means to innovate.
The pain today started early as I had to choose between about 15 conversations for each of the three sessions. Luckily, for me, Michelle Baldwin had tweeted me the night before telling me I had to come to her session where we discussed finding and nurturing the next Da Vinci in our classrooms. [Confession #3: Glad I didn’t have to choose and it turned out to be an awesome discussion with Kelly Tenkely.]
The second session I went to was made easy because I didn’t have to change rooms. I really wanted to hear Liz Davis and Lisa Thumann and they just happened to be in the same room. Their conversation was on Tradition Vs. Innovation. This was an interactive session as we had to choose to “Dig It” or “Ditch It” on some dozen topics in education that were “traditional.” Great discussions by teachers wearing their parent hats in this one.
You know, I’ve heard Dean Shareski speak and I abuse the other Canadian, Alec Couros a lot on twitter so I had to go see them tag team the topic of Learning in Public. This was definitely standing room only and there were no shy people in the room when it came to discussing this topic. Somehow this was the only session where I was content to just listen. [Confession #4: I almost raised my hand to see if I could be selected so I could tell them that Kelly Tenkely kept raising her hand to comment and they were missing her]
The SLA then provided a dinner where we continued to talk about what we had heard during the day and then we took the train out to the meet up this evening where we discussed stuff for another hour and a half and now, finally, I am back in my room and writing this post.
Basically, I have talked about education related topics every waking hour from my arrival to now and that’s about 40 of the last 54 hours. So, yeah, my head hurts. But you know what? I’m heading back tomorrow morning to do it all again.