Learning at #FETC

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Now that winter break is over (and it’s been a wild one here in Charleston, SC), I’m really looking forward to the end of January, which brings FETC in Orlando. I’ve been looking through the sessions available as part of the conference and I was glad to see that there were so many options that support personalized learning for our districts. Much of what I hear about from teachers and on social media has a base in personalization- which makes sense.

hal-gatewood-484652I’m often struck by how many times I hear advertisements and promotional media for things completely outside the realm of education that tout the customized experiences I can have.  I’m sure you are exposed to them too: things like apps, your medical care, pizza, and workouts.  I can easily order custom clothing to be delivered to my house and use my smart plugs to make lighting scenes that operate autonomously. If all of these other aspects of life can be tailored to my exact needs and interests, shouldn’t we be able to do the same for something as important as education? Customizing the learning experience for our students and for teachers is critical for success in our schools.

No matter where you are in your journey toward personalizing
learning, you’ll have a chance to grow at FETC.

Whether your school is well on a journey of personalizing learning for students or you’re just learning about it, #FETC has some sessions that you will benefit from. After looking through the options, I’ve pulled out a number of sessions (linked below) that support the customization of learning, but also target specific

neonbrand-426918aspects of personalization.  One thing that I appreciate about making the shift toward more tailored learning opportunities is that there are many different ways of approaching and embracing it. Personalized learning doesn’t (and shouldn’t) look the same in all schools or in all districts. Knowing your students, community, and teachers are critical to developing and sustaining a successful program. Also, if your goal truly is to form something that is designed to target the needs of your individual students, then it would automatically have to be different across schools, and honestly, even between classrooms.

As I explored the session choices, I began to sort them into the following groups:

  • Personalized Learning (generally)
  • Thought & Design Thinking
  • Blended Learning
  • Data & Its Uses In Instruction
  • Demonstrating Learning & Reflection
  • Differentiation
  • PBL {Project-Based Learning}

I felt like these groups worked to capture different entry points to personalization as well as different practical components that are part of a successful implementation. I have learned that personalizing learning is certainly a journey- it’s not something that someone can teach you in a week and send you on your merry way. It takes understanding the why and the how before you can really begin to think about what implementation might look like in your class or school. Once you get that understanding in place, you can then begin experimenting with what might work for the students you serve. I love that phase- learning about things that might work, identifying ones that you connect with, and then giving them a try. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to know everything before you get started- I would argue it’s better if you don’t. You’ll learn best with your team (and students) as you go.  

If you look through the list of sessions in the Learn at FETC plan that I curated (linked below), you’ll notice that there are a couple of instances where you physically are unable to attend all of them. There are more than a few that occur at the same time. I chose to focus less on the logistics of building a schedule, and more on the content of what I connected with. I didn’t want to be the one to arbitrarily leave off one session because there was something else that sounded better being held at the same time. Instead, I’ll leave that to you, the professional educator to make informed decisions for yourself. If we’re thinking more practically at this point, you do have some options for attending multiple sessions at once. These are some that have worked well for me in the past:

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  1. Don’t go it alone. Bring a colleague- that way, you can divide & conquer where necessary. I’m one of the Future of EdTech Influencers, and I’m also one half of an official podcast of FETC. So, the other half of 2 Tech Coaches & A Microphone (Lacy Bryant) will be joining me in Orlando for FETC.
  2. Reach out to the presenter of the session you wish you could attend on Twitter (or via email). Let them know that you can’t make their presentation, but are interested in the topic and would love to learn more from them.  Most people are very willing to at least send you their presentation- they might even do a video call with you, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
  3. Use Twitter and the conference hashtag– you’re very likely to find someone who is at the session you can’t get to and they’ll share their learning with you. You don’t have to have a Twitter account to use the hashtag, but if you don’t have a Twitter account, I definitely recommend signing up. Twitter has such a vibrant education network. If you have an account, be sure to put the app on your phone/iPad and know how to log in!  You’re welcome to follow me, @techinteaching– send me a tweet (include #FETC) and I’ll follow you back!

Set a goal and make a plan for capturing your inspirations

No matter what you’re interested in at FETC, it can be very helpful to come up with a learning goal and make a plan for how you will capture the information/growth you make. When I’m in an engaging session, I always get very excited about the content and the things I’ll do based on what I’m learning.  I’ve realized that if I don’t leverage that excitement and capture as much of it as I can, I forget many of the details by the time I get to the door to head to my next session.  Try to be methodical about capturing ideas, resources, and any next step thoughts that pop into your head as they’re happening. I developed this template when I was at Learning Forward this year, and you’re welcome to use it and adapt it as you like. senjuti-kundu-349426

As we prepare to head to FETC, it’s pretty eye-opening to realize that learning-focused conferences like this offer a first-hand experience through the sessions you choose. Your experience will be personalized and targeted toward what you want and need to learn. You have choices for how you use your time and options for what and how you learn.  What a wonderful opportunity!  As you experience it, consider reflecting on how you might be able to transfer that type of learning environment back to your classroom/school/district for your students, too. Imagine the engagement and excitement it might generate for children.

What do you hope to get out of FETC?

 

learning at fetc

I hope you can use this Learning at FETC plan (click on the image or here) as you plan what sessions you’ll attend!  It can be a starting point for you, or if your interest is entirely focused on personalizing learning for teachers and/or students, it might be your off the shelf solution.

What session(s) are you most looking forward to attending? Comment below and share them with us!

To make a copy of the session plan, click here.

kendra handwritten

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3 thoughts on “Learning at #FETC

  1. I am really interested in Design Thinking and using Digital Breakouts to teach students in a way that promotes problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration (as opposed to lectures). Also, thanks for sharing your template! I am looking forward to organizing all the new things I learn in a really useful way!

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  2. I think what I love about FETC the most is the focus really is on learning and how we can optimize this for our students.

    Many of the sessions sound incredible and I’d encourage attendees to remember to slow down and have conversation. I like that you pointed out how important it is to have a plan to reflect and take notes between sessions. Connecting and starting a conversation in the hallways and seating areas can further guide your reflection and help to connect you with educators who will support you as you make the ideas learned a reality in your classroom and schools!

    Enjoy the conference and know I’ll be following along on Twitter!

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  3. […] He also shared some stores about his ‘personal children’ and how their educational experiences and delights have shaped the work he’s doing in his professional life. Adam has been involved in education at many different levels, ranging from being a classroom teacher (just like the three of us) to working in the Obama Whitehouse, which helps him bring a varied, yet experienced point of view to his work. I’m looking forward to attending his keynote and sessions at FETC next week. Learn more about what session you might attend at FETC here. […]

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