I just returned from The Discovery Educator Summer Institute (DENSI) in Bozeman, Montana. It was the most intense and amazing Professional Development experience. In Wes Fryers’ presentation on Thursday morning, he asked how many of us were forced to attend DENSI. Not one hand was raised. That in itself speaks volumes. Over 125 educators from all over the U.S., Canada and one educator from Romania wanted to be there. We applied to attend, creating videos to show our passion for education, technology and Discovery Education. Many of the educators not only chose to be there, they paid over $500 (or more!) to cover their travel expenses. We waited anxiously to find out if we were accepted, rejoicing for ourselves, yet understanding and sharing the disappointment of those not accepted this year. We knew that this was going to be an amazing week, one that would permanently and positively impact how we teach and who we are as educators.
The DENSI is the perfect professional development model. We attend because we want to. We spend every minute working, networking and learning from each other and when DENSI ends, we hug, we cry and we stay in touch. The friendships that we made are professional and personal. We have connected with these people on many levels and those connections continue long after DENSI. DENSI is the beginning of the professional development, not the end.
I have been home only 15 hours, at least 10 of those sleeping and I have already shared my experience with two colleagues, two friends, my family, and another teacher I met in line waiting to pick up Chinese Food. I have communicated with several of the DENSI participants through Facebook, Twitter, Edmodo and Text messages. The conversations began at DENSI and they will keep going all year.
If all Professional Development could be like this, imagine the impact it would have on education.
Thank you to Discovery Education for a wonderful, exhausting, engaging, energizing week!