Without individual experiences, there can be no collective story. The more we share our individual experiences, the more our collective story grows, and the less alone we feel in the work. This is not the typical take away from a conference on blended and personalized learning, but The Blended & Personalized Learning Conference held in Providence, Rhode Island last week was not your typical conference.
According to the conference website, the goal of the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference is to “share proven practices from the best classroom, school and district success stories across the country.” For three days, the Dallas ISD central PL team joined a diverse set of educators to do just that. Throughout the conference, opportunities to connect and share were embedded with intention and innovation.
Schools opened their doors and shared their work, sessions had us mapping and storyboarding our PL journeys. Table discussions were transformed through Jeffersonian Lunch Conversations, while conference sessions engaged us through Consultancies, and Pecha Kuchas on failing forward. And the storytelling didn’t end with the sessions - we joined our teammates after the sessions to share childhood stories of bumps and bruises, embarrassing high school moments, and epic examples of failure (including one of us literally falling flat on our face).
On the final day of the conference, a panel of three students shared their stories to a room of over 1,300 educators. One of the students offered some advice for educators that speaks to the power of sharing your experiences and who you are. She said, “you come to a class full of humans. They may be small humans, but they're still humans...allow yourself to be human in your classroom!”
With so much of our time spent on playlists, data, rotations, risk taking, and reflecting, what a powerful reminder that regardless of our role (student, teacher, administrator, etc.), the most vital of our never-ending list of daily responsibilities is that of simply being human. Only then can the collective story we live and share be one of connection and community.
The central PL team is committed more than ever to allow ourselves to be more human, to share our story, and to be inspired by yours!
*Special thanks to the teams at the Highlander Institute, Christensen Institute, & The Learning Accelerator for such a special experience.