It's been a few weeks since the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute. And I'm not sure that I've fully processed my experience.
When I arrived, even when I received the email of congratulations, it felt pretty unbelievable to be having this type of experience. I have felt a little Wayne's World "not worthy" for much of my teaching career. Most four-year experienced teachers are not typically in my position. Arriving to Miami for Institute felt so surreal.
How do you process ADE Institute? How do you explain to someone the experience that you had? Institute is not your typical conference where you "sit and get" and come home with 10 new tricks to do on your iPad.
1. I realized going through Institute that this is what I feel I have been craving; community.
What ADE offers is a rich sense of belonging. There was a point in the conference where I was thinking to myself, "I don't feel like what I'm doing in the classroom is crazy anymore! These are my people!" Given the four days we were together, I was able to find a group of amazing educators with robust backgrounds to dream and collaborate with (By all means, I'm not saying I don't have that community right now, but now I have even MORE people to collaborate with!). We get to take a unique journey together through this program and truly develop life-long learning and friendships.
Weird statement, right? Apple IS technology. But Institute had a very sophisticated and purposeful way of challenging you to a higher place while allowing technology to be a whisper in the conversation. I'm not sure how else to describe it!
3. You've got to celebrate!
I don't think we do this enough in education! The excitement in the room made me feel like I was back at church camp again! Haha! Imagine if you had people cheering you on during teacher orientation. How would that change the beginning of your school year?
One of my favorite sessions talked about telling a story. I am NOT a good story teller. I remember listening and thinking-what does story telling have to do with my classroom? But what I realized is that we all have a story to tell and a story to listen to.
As a teacher, I have coworkers around me to share my story with. I have students that have so many stories that have shaped who they are and their stories shape the culture of our class. It also got me thinking about how much power there is behind the iPad and other Apple products; an iPad in my students' hands really gives them the power to share a small part of who they are with the world. They are already doing that nowadays on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. How can I play a positive role in their lives to guide them to share their stories in a respectful way?
PS Thanks Bill Frakes for sharing your inspiring journey. You've inspired me to look for beauty in all things. (And a HUGE thanks for taking my picture, such an honor!)
5. We are advisors, authors, ambassadors, advocates.
This is the heart of ADEs and ironically, roles that I have felt I have taken on in the classroom, but didn't have the name for! And the unique thing is, as I become these things more and more, so do my students!
I am so grateful for this new community and place to call home. Grateful for Institute (thanks Apple!), and cannot wait to see what this journey unfolds!