Opportunity: LEARN

One of my favorite lines from the movie “The Sound of Music” is when Uncle Max says, “I like rich people. I like the way they live. I like the way I live when I’m with them.”

Between January 12 and March 23, I am part of an educational conference every other weekend.   Whether it be CUE, ICE, DEN, EduCon or a Justice Conference at my church, I am going to be learning A LOT in the next few months from very very knowledgeable people!

So — to paraphrase Uncle Max —
my quote is:

“I like smart people. I like the way they think.
I like the way I think when I’m with them.”

It is quite easy to climb into our comfortable cubicles of complacency, pat ourselves on our back for jobs well done, continuing on day by day in our classrooms.  Kids are learning — YES.  Kids are safe — YES.   I am fulfilling (and sometimes exceeding) my job definition — YES.   But there has to be more!

And that is what starts to happen when you attend a conference — whether you travel miles to get there or you attend from the comfort of your home.  You start seeing that THERE IS MORE!  That there are other ideas!

Because many Many MANY people who are sharing at conferences are BRILLIANT.  And I mean that with total sincerity.   They are deep thinkers, strategists, dreamers, organized, spontaneous, whimsical, serious, skeptics, & believers.

And when they share their ideas……….Some ideas you will understand and accept immediately.   Some ideas you will disagree with completely.  Some ideas will rock your foundation and some ideas will stir you to action.  Some ideas you will forget and some will stick in your mind for years to come!!

But this can ONLY happen if you invite others into your conversation.

So I invite you to LEARN as much as you can — at the next conference you attend by:

L:  Listening
You know what you think.  You pretty much agree with what you think.  So stop and listen to what others think.  Don’t be preparing your response as they speak.  But truly listen….to the words said, to the words unspoken, to the body language, to the facial expression, to the emotion, thought, convictions, and ideas.  Don’t feel you always need to add your thoughts — at least not immediately.

E:  Eavesdropping
Listen to the conversations that are not planned.  Sit down in the hallway and listen as people wander by.  Wander the exhibit hall and stand with someone as a demonstrator tells them all about the product.   Then invite the person into a conversation with you to discuss what you just heard.  As you wait for a session to start, be aware of the conversations around you…..and go ahead, get up and move into those conversations.

A:  Asking Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask what you think everyone else already knows….because you might find everyone else is wondering the same.  And ask beyond the “why, what, when”, etc.   Be brave to challenge the question….not criticize or condemn, but get beyond the obvious and often the fluff to find out more.

R:  Re-evaluating
What you hear might not jive with what you know, trust, or believe — but don’t diminish an idea just because of that.  Toy around with the ideas you disagree with to see what the deeper reason might be and seesaw with the ideas you feel so strongly on just to see what gave them such a strong foundation.

N:  Networking
Don’t leave a conference without making a connection with at least 3 to 5 new people (hopefully, much more!) that will become your allies.  Exchange twitter names, blog urls, skype names, etc etc etc.  Make a commitment to STAY IN TOUCH, to be each others sounding boards, accountability partners, litmus tests of ideas, etc.

And don’t think — Oh, Jen’s just lucky — she has so many conferences to look forward to….but I sure don’t.   Because that is not true.

There are so many conference opportunities at your fingertips!!  There are so many conversation opportunities at your fingertips.  Take the time to google conferences, edcamps, etc.

And if you cannot make a conference — join a twitter chat:  http://cybraryman.com/chats.html – or read a blog post that stirs you, comment, & keep coming back to see what others say – or join a network like Classroom 2.0, or Global Education Conference, or even the Projects By Jen community.

and then please LEARN.
and then share what you LEARNed.




  1. Jen,
    Great post! It has helped me frame my joys and frustrations regarding getting together with other teachers (whether it be PD, meetings, whatever). When I am with teachers that ponder and question, it is a heady experience. I LOVE those moments! Once I joined a group that was working on their national board certification, not because I wanted to work on my NB, but because those four teachers were deep thinkers who were always reflecting on their practice. As I think about my frustrations with other situations, your post has made me realize that I need to create my own learning situations, rather than wait for them to come to me (and then get frustrated when nothing comes my way). Thank you for making me ponder all of this!
    P.S. I will look for you at CUE!

  2. Ryan BRetag says:

    See you at ICE! I look forward to learning and conversing with you.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Ryan — I CANNOT wait to see you at ICE — it has been WAY too long. Please make sure you bring family pictures — and I really want to hear more about your weight training!!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Hi Camille —
    I hope to see you at CUE too!
    Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I am glad my ramblings and personal sorting out of frustrations is helping you too!!
    See you soon!

  5. Bobbi Capwell says:

    This is great. I am always looking for ways to encourage my teachers to look at ways to get more out of the conferences they attend and even when they attend our trainings.
    I have used post-it notes with (at the top) I can’t wait to try… where they put what they want to do and share with (at the bottom)then they share it with another person after they have done the activity. It is great to see that raggedy postit note in so many rooms being shared.

    I am going to share this with my principals and my technology leads. I can’t wait to try it myself too.


    • Jennifer says:

      Thank you, Bobbi, for stopping by. I like your idea with the post-it notes…..smiles, I will need to borrow that idea!!

  6. I love the acronym. I will be sure to use it next week at Densi13. Looking forward to meeting you.

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