Friday, May 16, 2014

My thanks to our district for a day of unConference learning...

I have been meaning to write and publish this post for a long time, since February 15, to be precise. I was so moved and inspired by the learning and sharing that took place during our "Love Of  Learning" unConference Professional Development day that I wanted to reflect, share, and also thank those who were instrumental in making it a reality. Of course, first and foremost, you the learners were the most instrumental in making this a success, because without willing learners, it's hard to share and learn.

One thing that we often take for granted when doing any form of PD or meetings is the behind the scenes work that takes place. The cleaning, preparing, decorating, installing is all usually something that we expect to be done, but we rarely recognize those who make it all happen. I'd like to thank and recognize the KSD391 Maintenance and Custodial crews for their help in preparing KMS for the day of learning.

Mike Lawley, Aaron Miller, and Tim Etherton made a special effort to mount a projector screen to ensure we had a nice big screen for our central gathering and keynote. The KMS custodians also went through special effort to have the cafeteria and other rooms at KMS ready. Without these people the event would not have been as effective. Additionally, a special thanks to Principal Scott Ross and the KMS staff for opening up their building to not only the entire district, but also to the Wallace SD as well. Thank you!

Next, I want to thank and recognize the people who braved uncertainty, change, and the unknown, to volunteer to facilitate one or more discussions/sessions. Since the sessions were fluid and dynamic, I will miss out on a few I'm sure. Thank you to Patty Hoeck, Kieth Finkbeiner, Margy Brooks, Jana Nearing, Wendy Roach, Amy Miller, Emily Rosenberger, Michelle Kilbourne, Torrie Stutzke, Adam Hanan, Carolyn Wozny, Paul Roberts, Rich Peterson, Eli Bourgard, Chris Lund, Carol Roberts, Scott Ross, Joan Dawson, Melissa Case, Tina Brackebusch, Mary Harding, Vicki McEnany and any others (I'm working from memory here, so forgive me if I didn't mention you!) who helped lead the way.

Additionally, I want to thank Gwen, Jan, Brett, and Hank. Thank you Jan for your tireless effort and your long hours as we planned this out. You truly went the extra mile and I appreciate every inch. As we went through the steps to build the session board and offer the most customized learning experience possible, there were "bumps" in the road and variables that came up. Admittedly, there was a point when I was a tad overwhelmed, but brilliant minds like Gwen and Jan, kept things moving forward. Hank and Brett were so efficient in making sure each room had adequate technology and audio/visual support, that I didn't hear one complaint the entire day of something simply not working. Thank you all for being such amazing people to work with.

When I roamed the hallways for Session 1, I was anxious (OK nervous) about what I would see when I looked into each room. It was not that I didn't think it would work, but when you try something new, there is always a bit of apprehension. What I saw when I checked in on each room blew away my best expectations! I remember seeing instant engagement and meaningful discussion everywhere I went. It gave me goosebumps, seriously. It was so inspirational to see that many educators, all working together, sharing and making each other smarter and better equipped to impact our kids. Truly amazing stuff.

Throughout the day, there were some really great discussions and learning that occurred. Yes, we discovered a few things that we need to improve upon, but overall it was a day well spent, in my opinion. I think what impacted me the most was seeing people working together to share authentically, and empower one another on a myriad of topics. It confirmed my belief that we do indeed have some really passionate and talented educators in KSD391. Most importantly, I think the primary benefactors of this culmination of collaboration are the students we serve. It is the one common thread that we all share, regardless of grade level, subject, political view, position, or experience. Despite budget woes, state mandates, Common Core, SBAC, or any other initiative or mandate... we have one common mission:  Kids.

Thank you all for being willing learners, or perhaps unLearners, and modeling what lifelong learning and collaboration are all about. I truly believe it is our job to model and foster 21st century learning to our students. They need us now, more than ever.


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