On the drive home from Educon this afternoon it hit me that I expect one of my colleagues to ask me about the conference tomorrow. When I return from a conference she always says something to me about how I should share with the team what I’ve learned, how they’d love to hear about it. I believe she’s letting me know that she thinks what I am doing is valuable and that she genuinely would like to learn what I have learned.
When it hit me tonight, however, it stressed me out. I don’t ever feel like I have anything to say. Not that I haven’t learned anything at a conference, just that I can’t figure out what to share. I think my colleague is hoping I can bring new ideas about teaching students to become better readers or writers or historians or such. I can’t.
Which isn’t to say that what I learn at a conference doesn’t help my students grow as learners, thinkers, and teachers themselves. It definitely does. It’s just that I can’t turn around and say, “Here’s an interesting idea you can try in your classroom tomorrow.” I no longer attend sessions that would give me something like that (not that such sessions really exist at Educon).
I want sessions that look beyond my classroom, that are bigger and broader. I want to talk about systems and change and theories.
I could still learn from sessions that share specific teaching strategies, of course. I am not a perfect teacher. But, two decades into this, I’m a pretty good teacher and I believe my time is better spent working on bigger issues. We could all be perfect teachers when it comes to helping our students learn the required content and skills and we still wouldn’t be fully serving them. The required content and skills are important, but so is helping our students look at their world thoughtfully and critically and know they are able to improve it. So is thinking about how we improve ourselves, facing our own biases and analyzing our own values. So is discussing how to have difficult conversations around these ideas with colleagues and families and community. If I could only figure out how to have what should be a simple conversation with my colleague.
I have every intention of writing more about Matthew’s session as well as several others and other moments from Educon soon. There is much for me to think about, reflect upon, and process.