Sunday #DENSI2014 Reflection

Filed Under (DEN Events) by Jeannine on 14-07-2014

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The moment so many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. I feel like a small child on Christmas. The DEN is here! The DEN is here! Wake up, wake up, it’s time for the #DENSI2014. Maybe that is why I rose with the sun this morning. The first time I checked my phone was slightly after 5:30 am. I am so impressed by those that can take that extra step and join the DEN Fit Club. Me? I rolled over for awhile and thought about my schedule and what would need to be done. I eventually admitted defeat that yes I was awake and logged in to catch up with social media. With all the excitement with the dawn of the #DENSI2014, there is so much conversation on so many social media tools. It is so wonderful to experience this excitement.

Slowly but surely our friends began to arrive. Some were members we have known for some time, some were members we met last year, some were brand new members. I just love helping add new members to our tribe. I had the privilege of having lunch with a special new DENSI member.  We discussed are various experiences with the DEN. We both marveled at the power of the DEN to shape us, help us, and inspire us. Each individual’s experience is unique. But the same themes run throughout. Themes such as love, acceptance, joy, honor to be chosen, excitement, and other such positive descriptions are universal when discussing the DEN.

 

An overarching theme in the DEN is always connections. Each year I love the activity that kicks off the first night’s festivities. Each of the attendees brings a small token that represents where they are from. These gifts are placed in bags so that we can’t tell the item in advance. The item and a brief summary of the gift giver are included in the gift bag. Your first job is to find your gift giver. Your second job is to converse with them. It is a great ice breaker. The goal is to spark conversation and make that first connection for this year’s DENSI. The third job happens when your gift receiver finds you. Now it is time to reverse roles and discuss the item that you chose to share. This is your second connection made during #DENSI2014. Within just a few minutes of being at DENSI2014, even new attendees have 2 connections. Two new friends with which to remember this amazing evening. I adore this simple activity. It isn’t about the gift. It’s about the discussion behind the gift with the people behind the gift.

 

Time with the DEN is a gift. Undoubtedly one of the best professional gifts that I receive. Time with the DEN exploring or listening to sessions is inspiring. Tomorrow we will have some time with an excursion visiting some local famous locations. I can’t wait to board the busses and head into the adventure together. Guess I should get some sleep to prepare for the journey. Night everyone!

DENSI2014 Day 2 Reflection

Filed Under (DEN Events) by Jeannine on 13-07-2014

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It is always a joy serving on the Discovery Educator Network Leadership Council (DENLC). However, when I am with this inspiring group of educators my joy for education is fueled. Thank you all for stoking the fires of inspiration within me. Today’s pre-conference involved a large portion of the day being devoted to an Unconference. If you haven’t attended an Unconference before I hope you will try one soon. They are amazing. To quickly summarize the concept – those in the audience suggest topics that they would like to learn more about and/or explore. Those with similar interests find their way to them. Together you discuss, brainstorm, share, plan, consider, and evaluate ideas and ways to gain greater knowledge regarding the suggested topic. This experience is always so very rewarding.

After the conference wrapped we had an outing to a cultural night of local hospitality. Many of us reconnected and chatted with friends. Several were brave enough to make it out onto the dance floor to try something new or perhaps just something that isn’t our forte. Watching these wonderful educator friends of mine embark on this journey reminded me of how we need to periodically put ourselves in the place of our students that are attempting to learn something new as well. Were you the DEN member that followed the fancy footwork easily? Were you the DEN member that needed to watch someone else to learn the steps? Were you the DEN member that focused on the verbal directions being offered and counted out? Did you try it and decide this wasn’t something you wanted to continue to pursue? Or did you sit out on the side line enjoying the view but not wanted to participate in acquiring this new or new-ish skill? We each learn in our own way. Sometimes it is nice to be reminded of how many different ways of approaching the same activity there are.

During Rafranz Davis and Conni Mulligan’s session for the Unconference I was struck with a notion that “Flexibility is freeing”. They artfully discussed the way in which one wonderful little boy has become his own best advocate for his own learning. He researches, tests, trials, and implements ideas. In yet another session Nancy Sharoff, mentions that to FAIL could be approached as “First Attempt In Learning.” As I said above, these wonderful educators inspire me to challenge myself to help my staff find ways to reach our students. ALL of our students. As Dave Tchozewski pointed out – It is should not be about the device. Our focus should be the task. What do we want to accomplish/learn? Then find the tool that best matches our need.

Thank you to all the wonderful DEN members that match my need for professional growth. I am so honored to count you among my PLN. The prospect of making new DEN friends tomorrow is music to my ears.