The DEN LCs had representation from all across the country at this past week’s LC Symposium at Bentley University in Waltham, MA. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first about the decision to house the symposium here, but it only took about half a day for me to realize my fears were unfounded.
Why? Bentley University is a beautiful campus, but we had three things hit us upon arrival for which I was not prepared. First, there is nothing near the campus. Others had ventured out before I arrived and walked nearly 3 miles to find a store other than something connected to a gas station. Second, it is quite honestly the only place on the face of the planet where no matter which direction you walk you are always going uphill. Third, the cafeteria was having technical difficulties, so we were eating in a tent with nearly 1,100 kids at various camps on campus.
We weren’t in Silver Spring any more, Toto.
However, once we started rolling out the meetings Lance and his crew had lined up, all my fears and worries were gone. So, here are some lessons I learned:
1. Don’t complain until the program is completely over. Sometimes the things you think are negatives turn out to be the most positive aspect of the situation.
2. When those in supervisory roles have earned your trust (as Discovery has over the past 5 years), just keep trusting. They usually know what they are doing. And if what they’ve planned turns out to be a mistake, they will apologize and fix it for next time.
3. Step outside your comfort zone every once in a while. For me that meant hanging out with people I haven’t usually spent time with. I’m a creature of habit more than experiment. I really connected with some truly amazing educators by simply taking a chance.
4. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel every day in your classroom. OK, this wasn’t covered in any of our workshops (although Dr. Lodge McCammon came close). I learned it from the lesson of the chicken patty. The cafeteria at Bentley gave a whole new meaning to recycle.
5. More local professional development should be in the form of an un-conference. Simply put, several of us stood up and announced something we would like to talk about. Those that wanted to attend did. If they discovered it wasn’t for them, they left and went elsewhere. There were no high-dollar presenters or super dooper whooper whopper presentations. Just a group of teachers talking things through and using our collective experiences to gain new insight. Amazing!
6. The DEN is the greatest single source of professional development in the world. I didn’t really learn this at the LC Symposium, but I thought it was worth mentioning again.
Thanks to all the Discovery people who made this week possible. Thanks to my PLN who challenged me in new ways to rethink the way I do education. Thanks to Bentley University for a roof over my head and something that nearly always looked like food even when it didn’t taste that way. And thanks to encouragement of climbing buddies for the stamina to make it up 287 stair steps 3 times a day for a week.