It has been just over one week since the Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute (DENSI 2013) ended. I have read a number of posts by DENSI attendees and each person has done their best to communicate the experience in words. I am just now attempting to put my experience into words that best express the impact that it had for me.
When someone asks me about the week spent in Vermont, I often hesitate, and then respond with “It was absolutely fantastic”. I hesitate when responding because it is difficult to try to find one single phrase that sums up the experience. Simple words rarely do justice. I suppose a better response would be “Do you have half an hour? I’d like to share with you some of what we experienced”.
So, if I could grab them for half an hour, I would tell them that this event is a family reunion of sorts…but one that folks actually want to attend. It is like a summer camp for educators. I would share that this event is one that exhausts AND invigorates. You stay up very late with the other attendees because you don’t want to miss out on anything. DENSI is like drinking from a fire hose. You take in as much as you possibly can, and then take another gulp. They would hear from me that you truly need to experience it to understand the impact.
I would share that DENSI is more about making connections than it is in experiencing “things”. You meet old friends and make new ones. And those friends will become invaluable contacts that will help you become a better educator. I would tell them that I have had hundreds, maybe over a thousand, of post-DENSI connections in the last week on Twitter, Facebook, Edmodo, Glide, email and texting from the United States and Canada. Those connections make be a better person and educator.
I would share that the common bond for all of us at DENSI is that we are enthusiastic Discovery users. They would be asked to consider the quality of the Discovery resources and transfer that quality over to a week of immersive, engaged and exciting interactions with those resources and much, much more.
At this point, my hopefully “captivated” colleague would then get a chance to share in the DENSI experience as I would share the collective resources that we have in the DENSI2013.com website. They would get a brief overview of the site so that they could navigate on their own to connect with attendees, view the collaborative notes, videos, and pictures.
They definitely will hear about my “take-a-ways” from the institute … the things that made the biggest impact on me. The things that I want to take back to my district are summarized below.
Take-a-way #1: Without hesitation, I want my co-workers watch the Joy video from Discovery’s Dean Shareski (view the video here). As a long time educator, I have seen the passion and energy in colleagues diminish due to media attacks, legislative oversight and standardized testing. I will challenge them to find their own way to put Joy back into their daily work. I will offer my assistance as helping others achieve Joy will provide me with my own Joy.
Take-a-way #2: I will challenge my co-workers to look at the value of staff and/or student produced videos (see samples here) as shared by Discovery’s Hall Davidson. We will discuss how captivating videos are in instruction and entertainment. When they are created by classmates, students are more engaged. I will offer my assistance in helping staff and students further the video creation learning experience. This will give me Joy.
Take-a-way #3: Finally, I will challenge my co-workers to make better use of the available Discovery resources. Far too many of my colleagues believe Discovery is only used for streaming videos. I will offer my assistance and leadership to help our staff better utilize this tremendous educational resource. This, too, will give me Joy as they discover the richness of all things Discovery.
My experience with all of my friends in Burlington will serve to energize and drive me as we enter the 2013-2014 school year. Thank you to Discovery Education for providing such an amazing opportunity.