09 March 2010

ASCD 2010: Parting Thoughts

Today is a travel day for me. In a few hours, I will be on a homeward bound plane. I am ready to be home and have a couple of days of "normal" before the next conference (now only 4 days away).

The ASCD annual conference was a fantastic experience and I highly recommend attending one if and when you can. There is an incredible amount of expertise available for access. I really appreciated that this conference is not specialized. I've been to plenty of science conventions...a couple of tech ones...gifted ed...and a few other boutique things. They were wonderful in their own ways---and I do believe that the science specific ones helped me the most early in my career. But now, it is much more valuable for me to see the big picture. I liked the smorgasbord of possibilities offered here.

As with any conference, the quality of the presentations was hit and miss. I had a couple of outstanding and engaging sessions to sit in on...a couple so-so...and two truly awful eye-bleach necessitating ones. There is always a roulette feel to picking a session. There were so many (seemingly) wonderful choices which you finally narrow down to one before hauling your cookies to the room and discovering if you're a winner or loser. Generally speaking, I would say that classroom teachers have the most difficulty with presenting to other adults. They are obviously very knowledgeable about a given topic and passionate about what they do. They are probably amazing in the classroom with kids. They have a lot to share---they just need some help in getting their message out in a way that connects with an adult audience.

One of the things that impressed me most about this conference is ASCD's commitment to social media and using that to help members connect with one another and have a voice. I did get to meet the two communications staff members who tweet for the organization. I was very impressed with their professionalism and their earnestness in listening to us. For example, it was nice to actually be involved with a conversation about the Common Core Standards (instead of being told what I should think about them...as I am at home). How refreshing to not be bullied into giving up critical thinking.

I have a couple of posts started that will pull out some of the larger take-aways for me. Thank you, ASCD, for allowing me to present and to learn. At the moment, I am physically tired, but my professional spirit is rejuvenated, refreshed, and ready to work even harder on behalf of students everywhere.


Angela Watson said...

I agree, Melissa and Laura are just fabulous--"their earnestness in listening to us" is what sets them apart. :-)

I'm currently writing my own reflection of the conference, and a big part of what it's evolving into is commentary on the "hit-or-miss" experience regarding sessions (not for ASCD, necessarily, but education conventions as a whole). It's interesting that the you found classroom teachers to be the weakest link in presentations--I found just the opposite, that the people with 30 and even 40 years experience in teaching adults were actually the least tuned in to what adults need to learn. Regardless, methinks it's time for some accountability in the one sector that seems to have avoided it--professional development.

It was great meeting you, by the way. :-)

The Science Goddess said...

Fun to meet you, too! Lots of great connections at this conference.

Glad that you had some great sessions by teachers. The ones I saw presenting had incredible thinking behind their ideas, they just needed help in being effective with the message. Maybe I will have better luck next year. Ah, next year...