I spent this past Sunday through Tuesday attending the Day School Leadership Training Institute’s (DSLTI) Alumni Retreat in West Palm Beach, Florida. It was the first conference I have attended this season, with at least two more coming up. I will be in Atlanta, GA in January attending (and presenting) at the North American Jewish Day School Conference and we will be hosting edJEWcon 5772.0, right here at our school in May. There have been years, when in addition to those, there might be other Jewish or secular conferences in education I have attended or presented at. That is, admittedly, a lot of time to be out of my school and (particularly in this economy) a lot financial resources being spent for me to attend theses conferences and retreats. It raises the very legitimate question, “Is it worth it for the school to have you attend or present at all of these conferences”? My teachers, parents, students, board members, donors, etc., all have a very legitimate right to ask what benefits come from this investment.
I had thought (prior to the retreat) about writing a blog post describing what I would learn from the DSLTI Retreat with suggestions of ways it might impact my practice. But then I remembered that I am supposed be Mr. 21st Century Learning and couldn’t I employ another method for delivering that content?
So…my first order of business was to ensure that I captured my experience of the retreat utilizing 21st century technologies. We quickly developed a Twitter #hashtag to organize a back-channel for the retreat; for us to comment, and collaborate, and – for me – to experiment with using Twitter for my own personal professional development. Every time I would have written a note, or typed a note, I sent a tweet. For those who already follow me on Twitter (and you can click on the “Follow” button on my blog if you’d like to), it provided them with a running live experience of who I was listening to, what I was thinking, what questions it raised, and some cases what I was seeing (as I attached pictures to my tweets using my iPhone).
Whether you have a Twitter account or not, you can review the entire #DSLTI Twitter feed simply by clicking here or by going to www.twitter.com and searching for “#DSLTI”. (You will notice that the conversation has continued past the conference – which means it was and will be a meaningful professional development vehicle.) But for a taste, I am going to simply show you my tweets from the retreat. [Warning: I have given this to you as snapshots - NONE of the links will work. You would have to get that from going directly to Twitter.] This is one answer to the question of what the experience meant to me:
So besides tweeting from the retreat, I also took “notes”. Using the “Note Taker HD” app on my iPad, I was able incorporate my hand-written notes, typed notes, and photos. Again, it may not all be legible (I am a doctor now) and it all may not make sense because I wasn’t writing it for public display, I do think it is useful to show for two reasons. One, as above, is to ensure no one thought I spent my time sipping drinks by the pool. But, it is also to provide some meta-analysis about the experience of attending a conference and how 21st century learning has impacted my experience. It may also stimulate some thought about whether we need to train teachers or students about how they can adapt new ways of “taking notes” in a 21st century learning context. Here’s what I came up:
The third thing I did was enter each new book I was stimulated to buy onto my Shelfari page, which you can see to your right on my blog as a widget or by clicking here.
I came back front the retreat jazzed up about what I had learned, how I had learned, and how I hope to have my practice informed by new learning. I hope this blog post does a fraction of any of those things for you!
And if you are interested in where #DSLTI goes from here? Follow us on Twitter!