Learning Together

fall-2016-headerThis week, our team held our 6th Convergence Learning Symposium at the McKimmon Center (NC State). This two-day conference is focused on digital learning, literacy, and libraries. We have a wide range of people who attend: school library media coordinators, instructional technology facilitators, technology contacts, principals, and central office staff. This year, we added our Teacher Leader Corps members as well as our Digital Portfolio Pilot schools. What an opportunity! Having teachers and media/tech staff attend together was such a learning experience. Several principals shared that their folks came back energized and excited to try new things. We will be looking to incorporate teachers more in the future!


We also invited staff from some of our neighboring school districts: Orange County, Wilson County, Chapel-Hill Carrboro City, Johnston County and Rowan-Salisbury.

We had two very knowledgeable, entertaining, and thought-provoking keynote speakers: Kevin Brookhouser and George Couros.

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Here are some of my takeways from their keynotes:

416rfwlw-vl-_sx326_bo1204203200_Kevin and the 20time project:

  • Mindset matters. We have to allow learners (adult and student) time to work through their functional fixedness. Thinking beyond what we know to be tradition or traditional methods requires the opportunity for failure as part of the process.
  • Students will not necessarily embrace the idea of a 20time project. As educators, we have done a great job at understanding and promoting school but not always empowering learning. We have to help others understand the why of this work and support them as they do it for the first time.
  • Students will always amaze us with the ideas and work in learning. We have to stop the “they can’t handle this” talk and understand that if we build scaffolding, they can accomplish anything (even kindergartener).
  • Failure is an option. Failure to deliver is not. (Still have the song in my head!)

George and the Innovator’s Mindset:51uo6sbasql

  • Isolation in teaching and learning is now a choice educators make. There are many ways to connect with others who do what you do and who love to share their ideas. If you are not connected, you are not trying.
  • Student engagement is a low bar. What we should be striving for is student empowerment. Students need to be empowered to learn – through wonder, prototyping, failure, and resiliency.
  • Relationships are the foundation for all successful learning experiences. As educators, we must connect with others and build a culture of learning.
  • Failure is ok but we need to teach students that it is part of the process…not the end goal. We have to help them see that they don’t have to like failure but they need to be able to learn from it.

They also provided three concurrent sessions each. George did a full session on blogging and digital portfolios. He motivated me (who doesn’t like to write) to start blogging again and share my experiences. As you may guess, this is my first post back!

During the day we also had 85 presenters who shared their experiences and learning with others. Included in that mix were faculty and staff from NC State University and UNC Chapel Hill. Big thanks to all of those who stepped up! I know everyone there has so much to give. If you didn’t present this time, please consider doing it in April!




3 thoughts on “Learning Together

  1. Hey Pal,

    First, super jazzed that you included teachers in this iteration of Convergence. To be honest, it’s always bugged me that all y’all have the chance to hear from guys like Dean and George given that those opportunities aren’t readily available to those of us in the classroom. It’s always felt like a punishment for choosing to stay in the classroom for kids.

    Second, the days were amazing. Thanks for all the work you and your team put into pulling them together. Knowing a bit about the behind the scenes stuff that goes into conference planning, I can only imagine how busy all y’all have been. It was worth it, though. Truly the best PD experience that I’ve had in WCPSS in a long, long time.


    Finally, I don’t know why you don’t blog more! You are a terrific writer. This piece was easy to read and it had a voice that I enjoyed listening to.

    Added you to my feed reader this morning. Hoping to see your thoughts in my stream more frequently!

    Rock on,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Bill! That means a lot. I agree about having teachers attend. We have been trying to get a teachers conference going in WCPSS for the 4 years I have been here. With our 7 instructional calendars, there is always an issue. I spoke with some of our leaders this week and we are going to see if we can expand now that everyone is excited. If you have any ideas for locations or better yet speakers, let me know!


  2. Marlo, Thanks for recapturing the magic of our 2 days! I especially appreciate the recap of our two talented keynote speakers! It was an amazing professional opportunity, and all who attended have you to thank for making it possible.


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