I feel extremely excited to be here in Washington, DC for Discovery Education Network’s (DEN) Summer Institute. DENsi2015 (DEN – ES – Eye). As a newbie I was welcomed into the DEN family with an inspiring and welcoming first day. I am going to attempt to document 5 of my takeaways each day for each of the next 5 days. Here goes!
1. Getting the finger is a good thing. It is given to honour those who go above and beyond and inspire us all. We then cheer and wave our #1 finger in the air and woooooooo. Thank you to DEN team and the Leadership Council Volunteers who got us organized and helped this newbie and many others make their way through the day.
2. RJ Stangherlin is inspiring and she had us in tears. She shared her story of conquering rare cancers and the loving support she received from her husband and she credits the DEN community who helped her beat them. The DEN is a wonderful place full of caring people and the common theme through the evening is that trust is built through experiences and support comes from your family. The DEN is a family, and I am honoured to be part of it.
3. The power of connection, and conversation with new friends who seek to understand and appreciate your why as a teacher. Being a newbie to the DEN community I’ve learned the power of these relationships through the inspiring stories shared by RJ Stangherlin and Lance Rougeux. Lance talked about the power of family and support the DEN gave him during some difficult times in his life and the endless support the DEN gives to his passion project The Purple Feet Project and to the great lengths the DEN has gone to support him and his family personally. I am learning that the DEN is an amazing and supportive place.
Relationships and community first and learning about all the cool tech tools to support teaching and learning 2nd. Without the first the second means little. We want to do the best work of our lives. This is why we are here… to learn about these from new trusting friends who we have connected with, and they share how they’ve used them with students and colleagues in their districts and schools.
4. Trace Dominguez is a super inspiring guy who and creates content for DNews on youtube. In a little over 2 1/2 years they have over 1.3 million subscribers (at least one more after I clicked the button) and well over 7 million views on their many entertaining videos they create each day. I learned I need to watch more of the videos him and his team create about a variety of questions and introduce them to the kids in my class and have them soak in what he has to say and engage in conversations about them with them. Trace also mentioned the 3 question principle which is getting kids to ask the 3rd question about a topic before you ask it of them. Ask the first question, find the answer, then ask a question about what you learned, find answer, ask a question about the second thing your learned, and find answer. I’ve always believed in this form of inquiry, but I didn’t hear it stated as simply as Trace did today. The odds are if they get to the 3rd question they will go much further themselves on the question they were initially asking themselves on but on countless topics inside and outside of school. Trace is a learner and inspires others to be a learner too. Think of the modern day Bill Nye the Science Guy and that is who he is.
5. Lance Rougeux said amazing teachers don’t see what they do everyday as anything different than what other teachers do and don’t understand what they can offer to others by sharing. It reminded me of the Derek Sivers video above. “Obvious to You. Amazing to Others”. I learned the power of the DEN is sharing learning stories and connecting on a deeper level with your colleagues. We all have something that is obvious about what we do but when we share and connect we have the ability to spark amazing in others together as a community and as a family. All this and it is only the first day.
I’m looking forward to Day 2!