The Rethink Learning Summit was meticulously designed to assure that teachers could understand best practices for online teaching and learning by not only subject matter experts who have been teaching and learning with edtech for several years but also flowed so seamlessly in an online envirornment that it almost seemed like it would actually work better than in-person. It was almost scary. These International Society of Technolgy In Education Superstars have presented nationally for several years on best practices of teaching with technology and are by far the most qualified to prepare us for our new normal.
From Dr. Desiree Alexander to The HyperDoc Girls, this edtech "dream team" of presenters were so authentic in their teaching and learning that you could follow along and teach and learn right beside them. Each session was engaging. I did not "sit and get" at ANY of them. Each presenter had virtual manipulatives or breakout rooms, or music, or interactive slide decks that made me crave for more.
The last session of the day is called the "Wine Down" by Brian Romero Smith who is a product of the school district that I work in. I first met Brian at ISTE in San Antonio in 2017. During our networking between sessions I found out that Brian, who is very close to me in age, actually grew up two blocks from me. I actually knew his sister. His session is where you learn how to take next steps in creating processes for your district from all of the excellent information you have taken in during the conference. It truly is the blueprint on how to get your distance learning into action.
Each session had a "built-in" break with music and the chats that went on during the session are what dreams are made of when it comes to online learning interaction. From a conversation to a whole conference, Knikole Taylor has built something so elegant, so important, that is should be shared with every educator in the world right now. The Rethink Learning Summit was an authentic space that made physical space seem unneccesary.
Note: Keynote Speaker Cutia Blunt
In today's times, the stress level is high. The unknowns of our current situation has me making decisions that I would not necessarily make in normal times. For example, my youngest son graduated high school and I was so so upset that his senior year went that way it did that I booked us a flight to Los Angeles in the middle of a pandemic. We practiced social distancing while we were there but in hindsight I thought to myself, "What the heck was I thinking"? It's been almost two weeks since we took our trip and we have not shown any symptoms of the virus but thinking about it now, that decision could have been deadly.
I did not take any vacation time while I was on the West Coast so I worked each day that I was there by writing curriculum for an Institutional Racism course and setup an app for a leadership conference that our district was having. The change of scenery was refreshing and I got to spend some time with my sister and cousins. The cool thing about working from home is working from home can take place anywhere on the planet.
So many things can happen when you work with a large group, especially during a pandemic. Sometimes you may not see eye to eye on things and tempers flare. I have been on edge at my job for weeks now. Even the California sun could not melt the hostility I've been feeling. I returned to Kansas City after eight days of sunny and seventy degrees to a 90 degree, breath-taking humidity in the air and in my heart. I'm mad for various reasons and it shows in my walk, my talk; all of my actions.
I began to have so many bad thoughts that I knew that I needed to "step away from the vehicle". After spewing the bad thoughts to my coworkers, I deleted my work email app from my phone for the weekend. I knew I needed to change and some respite. I planned to take some time off to completely unplug in the coming days.
On Saturday, I woke up at my "new normal quarantine " time of 10 a.m. and put my Apple music playlist on shuffle. I've been spending nearly every awakened minute that I have had lately on work things.
One thing that I live by is too much of anything is a bad thing.
As my playlist shuffled through hit after hit, my thoughts began to change. I began cleaning my house, singing, rapping, dancing as thoughts ran through my head about our current state of affairs. As I began washing a load of clothes, I decided to register to finish my last semester of EdTech courses to receive my EdSpec in EdTech in the fall. I did it and can't wait to get back to finishing my degree.
My mindset changed. I dropped everything again and sang and danced and rapped. I had dinner with a friend. I came back and sang and danced and rapped. Music helped me to get away from the negativity. Music helped me to remember that you have to take time for yourself.
By the time the night ended I felt so relaxed and idea after idea began to pop in my head. I grabbed my laptop and typed my ideas into slide decks as I dusted off some of my edtech Master's degree books. After the adrenalin rush, I sang, and danced and rapped until I fell asleep relaxed, calm, and positive.
When you get down in the dumps no matter how you got there, you have to find what works for you to pull yourself out. For me it is music. I had gotten to a point where the pressure of work and other people's negativity had taken over me like a virus. I had forgotten why I do this job, it's not about me and my feelings, it's about the next generation and the golden opportunity we have to transform school from being a place to a lifelong experience.
I try to leave my long post for my blog (www.andreacook.net) but I had to let this one fly right now. This is one of the hundreds of little cousins, nieces, great-nephews that I have
Kansas City Public Schools
. When I am at work, I'm thinking about them constantly with every curriculum that I write, with every teacher I train, and with every professional development that I design. This is heart work! If your brain does not allow you to do what is best for kids or you are so busy trying to sabotage the great things that are happening within our district, I implore you to please leave education. We do not have time to deal with mess while kids are suffering. -Real Talk. First posted on Facebook 7/1/2020