Have you ever had one of those moments in the classroom as a teacher or in your school as a building leader where it takes you a few days to reflect on the joy and excitement that it has brought you? Moments where when you close your eyes you can still feel the energy, see the smiles on the face of your students or staff, hear the "buzz" of conversation, witness the learning that is going on around you. If you have had those moments, Congratulations. If you haven't had those moments yet, they are coming. Those moments transform you as an educator. They make you stop and realize the tremendous power in what we do in education and help you recognize why our roles are so important in the lives of our students, our colleagues and our communities. They are moments that can happen when you least expect them, or ones that come from a vision, from hard work, from dedication, from a relentless pursuit of wanting to do what is best for those you serve. When they happen.....cherish them.
I have been fortunate to have several of those "moments" throughout my career. However, in the hustle and bustle of a school year, the feelings of those past moments tend to be a distant memory as you work toward "the next thing" happening on a particular day. I was fortunate to have "a moment" this Friday at the Pequannock Technology Summit (#peqsummit) where I am a co-organizer with my colleagues, Beth Sheridan (@beth_sheridan6) and Peter Cook (@pcooktech) that I am still having "all the feels" two days later because of the impact it had on me and on my staff.
The Pequannock Technology Summit was a vision that I had five years ago that members of our Leadership Team turned into a reality. Over the past four years it has evolved into a dynamic, personalized professional development workshop focused on providing teachers, administrators and support staff with relevant learning opportunities to enhance their practice. Thanks to our Superintendent, Dr. Brett Charleston, we have been able to have some of the top educators in the country come to speak. Educators like Will Richardson, Alice Keeler, Rich Kiker and this year's speaker, Weston Kieschnick have kicked off the Tech Summits with powerful messages. Weston is the author of the book Bold School: Old School Wisdom + New School Technology = Blended Learning That Works. Wes set the stage for this year's summit talking about the importance of realizing that education is not broken. Education is not all about technology. It is about creating outcomes, using effective instructional strategies and then capitalizing on the technology tools that will help bring the outcomes to fruition through solid planning. The message resonated loud and clear to those in attendance as applause, head nods and shouts of agreement came from the audience. Weston's energy, passion, humor, wisdom and outgoing personality set the room on fire! (Not literally, no panic ensued).
Weston's message to "Go Forth and Be Bold" came to fruition following his keynote as 500 educators participated in over 30 workshops focused on Blended Learning. If you do a search for #peqsummit on Twitter you will see all the amazing learning, collaborating, and fun that was being had by everyone. Weston also provided workshops throughout the day on Instructional Coaching, Maintaining Grit and What Blended Learning Should Look Like. The greatest part about the day and where my "moment" occurred, was to watch teachers and administrators feeling empowered to share the great things they are doing. In every classroom presenters and attendees were working together, sharing best practices, learning and growing for the betterment of their students and for the students that will come after them. All of the effort that went into planning this event for our staff came alive before my very eyes.
With every conversation I had with attendees the smiles got bigger and bigger. Comments like "I feel so fortunate to work in a profession where so many are willing to put themselves out there and share their knowledge/experiences so that the whole profession can benefit and grow," and "The Pequannock Tech Summit is one of the finest workshop opportunities on the East Coast. The #peqsummit energizes & boosts me every year! Thanks for the professional lift" gives me the motivation I need to strive to make next year's conference be even more "BOLD."
If we truly want to make a difference in education we need to "Go Forth and Be Bold." We must be willing to take risks, to share what we know, to collaborate with our colleagues and to push each other to be better than we were the day before for our students. Weston said it best in his keynote. "Education is not broken. But, it is a dangerous game when in the name of innovation we determine the skills of the past, have no place in our future. We have to get as excited about pedagogy as we do about technology. Create a culture of "AND." It was a tremendous day of learning that I am so proud to be a part of each and every year. The entirety of the day was a "moment" in my educational life that I will never forget. From the things I learned, to the people I met, every part of the day was what should be happening in schools everywhere.
Thank you Weston Kieschnick. Thank you Peter Cook and Beth Sheridan. Most of all, thank you to everyone who made this event so special. Thank you for your tireless efforts to learn and grow to make schools a great place to be for students. As you get ready for your next "moment," don't wait for it to happen. Go Forth. Be Bold. Do what is best for kids. They are waiting.
Richard M. Hayzler
A life long educator and current Principal of Pequannock Township High School in NJ, Rich is excited to share his ideas and thoughts about education and how we can change the world for our students and our staff.