How I became an active learner at ASCD “Empower18”

Did you miss the ASCD conference? No worries; here's what happened

As ASCD “Empower18” kicked off in Boston on Friday, March 23 I knew the four days were going to be “wicked awesome”—I mean, come on!—it’s Boston. But somehow, the event toped even my highest expectations.

I was motivated to be both a learner and a leader at this year’s ASCD conference. In his keynote, Manny Scott said, “Be a student for your students,” so I prided myself on learning outside of my comfort zone as well as chances to learn within it. I became an active learner and I wanted to maximize every opportunity during this event.

There were so many sessions that matched various interests. My two must-haves: #CultureEd Panel and Unleashing Teacher-Led Innovation in Schools: Practical Tools That Have Real Impact. The common themes were taking risks in teaching and learning and letting your students’ creativity and discovery learning take center stage.

Learning from others

A few other impactful learning sessions included:

• Upgrading Your PBL Practice: New Support for Project-Based Teaching
• Inspiring Disadvantaged and At-Risk Students’ Character and Best Work Through Purpose and SEL
• Implementing Differentiating Instruction: Tips for Mentoring Teachers
• MASCD Ignite: Igniting the Learning of the Whole Child in Massachusetts, in which 10 amazing educators shared Ignite presentations on a range of topics including being a superhero educator to school-based programs.

Personal highlights

Some of the other highlights for me were listening to Carol Ann Tomlinson talking about differentiation, Todd Whitaker on school culture, and Steven Anderson digging deep about technology. The “whole child” theme was the foundation of all the learning at “Empower18.” ASCD is dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. We heard the following two statements and observed them in practice many times in sessions, learning labs, poster presentations, and the keynote:

• Every child is entitled to the promise of a teacher’s optimism, enthusiasm, time, and energy.
• A great educator never achieves greatness for himself or his class by working to make all his students alike. Educators should be champions of every student who enters the schoolhouse doors.

But how? This is where we as learners take the knowledge, skills, strategies, and experiences from ASCD and put it into our own work. As a district and edtech leader, here are some of the themes from ASCD “Empower18” that resonated most for me. I will use them to motivate my work and inspire others to be the best we can be for our students.

(Next page: An inside look at ASCD “Empower18”)

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