The Idea Factory
I recently had a whale of a time at the Computer Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs with 3 colleagues of mine. This is a conference I never miss, but it is primarily aimed at classroom teachers, so if I go without taking some teachers along with me, it feels like I'm wasting an opportunity. Luckily, 2 of the people I took with me were classroom teachers - Tara Treaster and Christine Whitaker. The third person was Omar Garcia, one of the computer technicians that works in my department.
Together, we were a small group that is representative of any school district as a whole. One administrator, one classified employee, and two teachers. Strangely, this doesn't happen often. I find myself being the "odd guy" who likes to manufacture this experience over and over again. I can't help it - this close concoction of mixed school employees thrown in to a special project or work based trip was what changed my ideas about schools, married me forever to education, and shot my career into the direction that it has taken today. So this idea, this type of experience, is special to me. It NEVER FAILS to create connections that help us educate kids better - NEVER.
We come from different backgrounds and different points of view. Our ways of looking at the problems that we face throughout the day are very different. Before we spent some time together, our perceptions of each other were shallow - colored by our own desires and stereotypes. We put each other in tiny little boxes...
Three days at CUE changed all of that. We emerged as an IDEA FACTORY. We found that our goals were the same, and our differences could enhance each other's strengths and minimize each other's weaknesses. The 4 hour ride home was filled with constant chatter and enlightening thoughts. Will we ever be the same?
No - and THANK GOD for that.
If only I could manufacture this experience for every employee in our school district.