As I sit and repeatedly try and wrap my head around my week in Burlington, Vermont that was DENSI2013, I find it hard to actually describe what I experienced. Maybe because it was my first time at DENSI. Possibly because my mind has actually exploded from all the cool new tools/resources I learned about. Most likely because of the amazing people that I sat next to, collaborated with, laughed and joked with, and became a family with. Regardless of the reason, I’m going to try and list some of the highlights of my week. Here it goes:
1. From the first moment I arrived (thanks Kim, Mark, and Doug for saving me) I felt accepted. Porter and many of the DEN already knew my name. I was accepted, loved, excited to be seen and heard. I became a part of the DEN family. The DEN doesn’t just use that word lightly. We take care of each other, help and encourage, laugh and cry together. I know the family that I have now through the DEN is there for me if I need something. It means the world to me.
2. The speakers in our general sessions gave me new insight into teaching, learning, and even just life itself. Richard Byrne talked to us about creating wise consumers and responsible users of information. He also encouraged us to engage our students in meaningful collaboration. Hall Davidson showed us how video can be used meaningfully in the classroom and taught us about the NEW 3 R’s —- QR Codes and augmented reality STILL blow my mind. Dean Shareski closed out our general sessions by reminding us to put the JOY back in our classrooms/lives.
3. The unconference time allowed us to drive what was being talked about in the sessions. It was amazing to see what is happening in classrooms all over the United States and Canada.
4. The outings were so much fun! Couldn’t even get to the entire Shelburne Museum and the smoked cheddar at Shelburne Farms was AMAZING!!! Can’t forget being given the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game. Truly a humbling experience to be chosen for the Sportsmanship Award during the DENmazing Race (despite my HORRIBLY small t-shirt and really bad singing – Wrong Direction).
To sum it all up: I have been amazed, loved, encouraged, filled with knowledge, inspired, connected, humbled, and most importantly – accepted for who I am and what I can do both in the classroom and out. This is why I’m a part of the DEN. This is why my week in Burlington, Vermont was one of the best weeks I’ve had in my life. From a first-timer I truly thank you.