Reflection on the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute

Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words-Rumi

Words.  So plentiful and easy to use in most situations…but what about those events in life for which there are no adequate words?  Those events that color your world and leave you transformed in such a way that defy explanation…

IMG_1925As I sit on the plane returning home from Austin, Texas, I am reflecting on just such an event.  6 days ago, I arrived in Austin to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute.  Over 400 select educators from the United States, Canada and Mexico came together for a week of professional development, deep conversations, reflective practice and authoring.  I know when I get home, I am going to have several people ask me about the experience and that’s where things get difficult.  The adjectives I use will be inadequate to describe the week.  Words like awesome, amazing, transformative, affirming, celebratory, and inspiring are the best I can do.

For educators, our world is filled with a lot of “Yes, but….”.  This week showed me the possibility and power of “Yes, and…”.  The simple substitution of one small word in that phrase changes everything.  We also learned to celebrate failure and not to fear it.  With failure, comes learning.

We were encouraged to take deep dives in thinking about pedagogy and not be afraid to be leaders in change.  Leaders do not spend time curating the status quo.  They dig down deep and become the change they seek.

While our individual levels of technological knowledge varied, everyone accepted and celebrated each other’s work and success.  There was no competition or jealousy.  We were all made to feel like Rock Stars and were supported no matter where we are in our journey.  Meal times revealed tables and tables of people intently listening and passionately sharing.

Staff development offerings gave us opportunities to learn new programs, apps and techniques as well as get advanced learning in programs we already use. We had brilliant speakers and we learned about the importance of story…how the story isn’t about us and we aren’t the hero.  We are more like Yoda…a mentor (only with better hair!)

We learned about the power of iTunes U for educators and we learned how to create our own courses.  We were given projects and formed PLN’s (professional learning networks) with like-minded people.

We met the developers of many of the great apps my students use daily.  It was so much fun meeting Reshan Richards (Explain Everything and a member of the ADE class of 2013) and Dan Amos (Book Creator).  Both are pure genius.

Reshan Richards

Reshan Richards

Dan Amos

Dan Amos

For 17 hours each day, I was drinking from a fire hose.  I soaked up every minute and made connections that will for sure be my life-long friends.  I was given a legacy to do more, dream more, learn more and become more than I ever thought possible.

I am forever changed…and eternally grateful!

Today we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!