Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When magic happens

Tuesday at ISTE started with a wonderful keynote from Jennie Mageria, chief innovation officer at Des Plaines School District and author of the book Courageous Edventures - navigating obstacles to discover classroom innovation. She spoke about education's untold stories of self-image, identity, our inner selves, the road to innovation and shattering the single story. Jennie reminded us that being a teacher isn't something you do, it is who you are.

Jennie works at the district level supporting schools' use of digital technology. She advised us that when someone is pushing back against you stand back and listen to their problems and be KIND - this will turn them from a fierce dragon into a friendly one.

Of most interest to me was Jennie's narrative around the danger of the single story. She told the story behind This isn't Chiraq, a YouTube created by some students in a neighbourhood that had been nicknamed 'Terror Town' because of all the murders and violence that were occurring, Media ever only portrayed the 'single story' of this town and so the students decided to fix this. They created the video This isn't Chiraq to tell their story of living in that neighbourhood. They sent it to news media outlets and it created a positive news sensation. Jennie believes that technology should enhance our connection to each other and that students can be empowered by telling their stories through video.

Jeannie's keynote was magic. At the end the audience gave her a standing ovation and she wept. I have to confess that there were quite a few of us shedding tears at the sheer passion and reminder of who we are as teachers.

The other bit of magic that happened to me yesterday started unexpectedly with a notification from the ISTE organisers that there was a fire at the adjacent mall. The ripple effect of this was 21,000 people trying to find lunch when the majority of restaurants had been evacuated! San Antonio has this stunning river walk with restaurants on either side. Like most I headed away from the mall and down the river walk. As you passed each restaurant you were told the wait-time for a table which ranged from 60 to 90 minutes. I was just about to give up on the idea of lunch when this lovely group of educators from Ipswich Public Schools in Ipswich Massachusetts called out to me to join them at their table. We had a wonderful lunch over stimulating conversation and I was so grateful that they were so inclusive and kind to a fellow educator from the other side of the world.

I started my foray into the Expo Hall and five hours and 16,000 steps later there is still more to explore. Tuesday finished with a workshop about VR and AR. It was the most future focussed experience I have had at ISTE. And in my bag I now have some Google cardboard...

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