What I Left NYSCATE Thinking

I went to NYSCATE thinking I’d get great information on the best new apps, web tools and information on innovative LMS systems, technology roll outs for the uninitiated.
Instead, the conference spoke to a theme that’s been running through my mind over this school year: How do I make a classroom that fosters a culture of both independent and collaborative learning preparing students for the 21st century? And really, how do I continue to evolve as an educator after almost 20 years in the classroom?
Here are some of my walk-away points from this year’s conference:
1. Ask kids what problems they want to solve and not what they want to become. This came out of Jamie Casap’s key note on Monday afternoon. By asking students what problems they want to solve, we encourage auto-didactic thinking and practices. When we ask kids what they want to become, we ask them who they want to work for, and really, we turn them into consumer and commodities.
2. The technology really doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong! I’m still a proponent of 1:1 integration, adopting LMS systems, full access to a range of social media for students. However, I’m reminded that technology isn’t going to fix the issues we have. Yes, it will stream line our classrooms, help with collaboration, ease assessment and grading practices. But, it won’t fix the lack of creativity we extend to our students, the lack of autonomy we give. If we don’t use it well, then it will only make more rigid our systems of standardization.
3. There are lots of new apps, web-based tools, Google hacks that I can’t wait to try. I’m not trying them until I have a bigger picture in place.
I’m thinking now about the kinds of cultures I want to create, the kind of teacher I want to be for my students, the kind of teacher leader I can be to my colleagues. As part of a District Technology Committee and a subcommittee on adoption of an LMS, there’s a lot of exciting work ahead.