Encounters of Innovative Educators
University of Texas – Austin, Texas
After spending a day with my wife, daughter, and the bull-puggle, I am now taking the time to digest and reflect on this past week. Spending five days at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute at University of Texas in Austin was an experience I will never forget. After a year involving union sanctions in Ontario and educators receiving some negative attention from the public, the ADE 2013 event has recharged my batteries and reminded me why I began innovating my mathematics classroom in the first place.
Where this journey began…
My ADE journey began about a year ago when Rob Policicchio, an Apple Development Executive from Ontario, tapped me on the shoulder and suggested I apply to become an Apple Distinguished Educator. My first impression was that this ADE thing would be some type of award or status. I can distinctly remember telling my wife, “yeah, it would be pretty cool to be recognized… maybe I’d even get a golf shirt!”
But here I am a year later and it finally makes perfect sense. Not only did I receive an beauty of an Apple golf shirt upon arriving to University of Texas, but I would gain an immeasurable amount of professional knowledge that I could never receive elsewhere.
Last Sunday, I wasn’t too sure what to expect for the coming week. I can remember sitting in Detroit-Metro airport and talking with Kristen Wideen, a fellow colleague from my school board about what the coming days would bring. We were both excited, but nervous at the same time.
What if we show up and people are doing things that blow us out of the water?
I think many of the new class of Apple Distinguished Educators for 2013 that now join a group of over 2,000 ADE’s worldwide were travelling to Texas were also searching for validation. Although we all know we work hard to do very innovative things in our classrooms, many of us haven’t had the opportunity to work with such a large group of change makers.
Learning from your colleagues
We would soon realize that this conference isn’t about being better or worse than any other educator. It is about coming together to build off of the great work of colleagues from around the globe. After a flight and a night in my own bed, I think the Class of 2013 would agree that we have all received that validation through the ADE Alumni, Development Executives and Apple Staff. When you walked into the ballroom each morning, the setup made you feel like Tim Cooke was about to hit the stage to introduce iOS 7 or iPhone 6.
However, the hospitality was simply a bonus that made everyone feel special. The lifelong connections made through Rebecca Stockley’s Ice-Breaker Activities and the ways in which we were challenged to extend our knowledge professionally was where the real value was.
Encounters of Innovative Educators
Within a few hours of arriving, I had bumped into some great educational innovators from all levels including post-secondary. Having an opportunity to do a digital scavenger hunt with the Scavengr app allowed me to get to know a great guy who helps his kids build iOS Apps (Kris Kling) and another who utilizes a Flipped Classroom model in math with his own twist (Dan New). From that experience on, I had made it a mission to try and eat with as many different tables as possible and run into as many people as possible. Here are a few others that I became very close with over the duration of the week through my Professional Learning Network (aka Professional Life Partners) and other great meet-ups:
- Kristen Wideen – Inquiry Based Learning and Social Media with iPads in her Primary Classroom
- Marcel LeBlanc – Addressing Student Readiness in his Intermediate Math Classroom
- Cathy Yenka – Using NearPod for Formative Assessment in Intermediate Math
- Patrice Bourassa – Effective Use of 1:1 MacBook Computers in Mathematics
- Rhiannon Sparkes (Szollosy) – Critical Thinking in Mathematics / iTutors Program
- Dean Vendramin – Flipping the Grade 9 Math Class
- Michelle Cordy – Hacking Education
- Tanya Avrith – Transforming Classrooms in Her Board with Technology
- Carl Hooker – Spreading his Wealth of EdTech Information
- Bradley Lands – Utilizing Technology Across the Curriculum
- … And so many more!
You can only imagine how many intriguing conversations were shared with me each day at the ADE 2013 Institute. Not one was boring or disengaging and I can’t wait to see this group again at the next Institute in Summer 2014.
ADE: Connecting Passionate Educators
Having joined the Apple Distinguished Educator community at the beginning of 2013, I am only now starting to realize what the ADE program is all about.
It’s about connecting passionate educators who innovate in their classrooms, schools and districts.
It’s about building relationships to keep improving education for 21st Century Learners.
It’s about being pushed by your colleagues to keep improving and be life long learners.
The Apple Distinguished Educator 2013 Institute has connected me with hundreds of like-minded educators from other countries, provinces/states and cities. This kind of professional development experience is something I have never been exposed to in the past and for that, I am grateful.