For the last three days of work, I was at GaETC, an educational technology conference held near the Atlanta airport. I go each year. Some years, I’m into it; other years, not so much. This year I happened to be really looking forward to it, and I have to say, I came away with tons of new ideas.

Those who do not attend conferences frequently (or ever) are often under the impression that they’re some kind of joyous festival–Woodstock, but with apps. Don’t get me wrong, the conference is a lot of fun, but it was also an exhausting three days. I was getting up at 5:15AM to get in my car by 6:00. Tuesday night I stayed for the reception and didn’t get home until almost 9:00PM. Friday night, I slept for 10 hours. So, yes, it was fun, but it was also super busy.

I kept all my notes in the same file, which is now seven pages long. It will take me much of the week to look at them at school, decompress them, and sort the good ideas from the it-sounded-good-then ideas. That said, I’ve got some preliminary things I want to start working on right away.

  1. A compelling report–which I will read in its entirety this week–indicates that the vast majority of a teacher’s professional growth occurs in their first five years of employment. After that, it starts to level off dramatically. I need to refocus my efforts, not just on new teachers, but on those who have been here for more than a year (but less than 5), who I’m guessing often get forgotten about.
  2. I’ve been struggling to get a gamification of our technology professional learning off the ground, due mostly to the fast that the back-end requirements to keep up with everything seem overwhelming. I saw a presentation from a school that was using badges instead of full-blown gamification and was able to use them in a way that recreated the best parts of gamification, but kept it very simple to keep up with. I look forward to playing with that some more, and perhaps reaching out to some experts on Twitter who can help me.
  3. My leadership strategy needs to change. I’ve been to a thousand sessions about “try this cool app” or “50 apps in 50 minutes,” so this year I focused more on the sessions that said they were about digital leadership. I learned some great things–particularly with respect to administration–which I will be expanding on this week. My eyes are a little more open now.

Those three items aren’t the only things I took notes on, but they’ve been stuck in my head since I left, so I’m considering them the most important for now.

I am really looking forward to sitting down with my coffee tomorrow and reflecting on my notes in greater detail.