being me, conferences, connect

Have You Submitted Your EdScape Proposal Yet?

I first heard about EdScape a few years back when my Twitter feed exploded with knowledge during the weekend of the conference.  For years I have wanted to go and be a part of this conference created by the amazing Eric Sheninger, but life seemed to continually get in the way.  Well, this year is my year.  Not only do I get to go to EdScape and learn with educators from all over the USA, I also am honored to be the opening keynote speaker.

So why should you come join me October 17th in New Jersey?  Because this amazing conference is an incredible space for learning, allowing us all to not just be inspired but also to come away with tangible things to do as we change education.  Because this conference is a one day don’t-want-to-miss event.  Because during lunch there will be an EdCamp.  Because this conference is $35 to attend – yup $35.  Even better, if you present, your registration is free,

So if you have an idea that you would love to share.  If you love presenting and meeting people.  If you want to come and inspire as well as be inspired, come to Edscape.  Submit your proposal before August 15th because I hope that you come and learn with me, I hope you come and share your amazing ideas, I  hope that we can connect.  I know I cannot wait.

To submit your proposal, go here

To register for the conference, go here

To see more about this amazing event, go here

aha moment, being me, conferences, PLN

10 Tips for Going to A Conference All By Yourself

This is the summer of a lot of firsts for me; first time going to ISTE and many other conferences, first time going to certain states like Utah, first time doing an Ignite, first time going to NerdCamp (finally!) first time getting an award, and first time doing a lot of travelling by myself.  So as I have been preparing to hit the road, I figured I cannot be the only one that is traveling to conferences by themselves this summer and thus needs some help on how to make the best of it.  Behold, Pernille’s 10 travel tips for going to a conference all by yourself…

Make connections beforehand.  If you are on Twitter, start following the hashtag of the conference and see who else will be there.  I also know there are Facebook groups for some larger conferences and I have been joining some of those, just to make connections.  Even if you are not into social media, Google the conference and see what comes up.  I also try to scope out what type of social event there will be available to you beforehand so that you can go and meet people.  No one should have to go through a conference by themselves.

Figure out your goal.  The first conference I went to I tried to do it all; go to as many sessions as possible, meet new people, make meaningful connections, check out new products!  And I was exhausted.  So this summer it is all about meeting people.  Yes, I want to learn, yes I want to see the new products, but I am focusing in one thing rather than all of them so that I can allow myself to take a break.  Don’t try to do it all, do as much as you can and be excited about how much you accomplish.

Pack what you feel the most comfortable in.  I like to dress up when I present, it is a professional respect thing for me, as well as something that gives me confidence when I have to speak.  Even if I am not presenting, I look pulled together but always comfortable.  Very rarely do I wear heels if I can wear sandals in summer, and I always dress in layers.  Who wants to be cold all day?  So find out what you feel your best you in and then see if that will work for you, if you are going to meet people, make sure you feel confident when you do.

Pre-brainstorm opening questions.  I can be shy at times, particularly in large groups or when people tell me they have read my blog or my books.  So while this may sound stupid, and I probably shouldn’t admit to this, I purposefully go through and think up questions that I can ask any person I meet.  I am, after all, traveling to connect and meet with people and want to make sure that I can spark up a conversation.

Go up to people.  This is something I have had to really work on, but it is important to learn how to introduce yourself to others.  I have had too many missed opportunities where I had hoped to meet someone and I never felt the right moment came for me to go up to them.  Later I was bummed I had missed the opportunity because of my own fear.  So make sure you create that moment, which leads me to my next point…

Practice being brave.  This is something I remind myself of every time I go a new place.  I love meeting new people but can have a hard time initializing a brand new connection.  I have told myself I have to practice every time I travel, every time I have the chance, and meet at least 5 new people.  I set a small goal so I can accomplish it but also make it big enough for me to get in the habit of going up to people.  Some of the best conversations I have had has been with complete strangers that I introduced myself too.  It took bravery and that is something we could all use practice in.

Print a business card.  I laughed the first time someone told me this, (what does a teacher need a business card for?), and then I went to my first conference.  Aha!  When you meet someone new and you want to exchange information that business card becomes your new best friend.  The best part was my husband’s tip of using one of the free websites where all you have to pay for is shipping.  I got 250 cards for $5 and I am bringing them all.

Plan down time.  While I love the learning and connecting that happens at conferences, my brain can only take so much.  So don’t overbook yourself, schedule in for down time where you will sit, eat, and do whatever it is you need to do to feel like this is still a good time.  Going to conferences should be a great experience, not a hassle, nor a stressor.

Bring a book (or five).  Or whatever it is that lets you completely relax by yourself.  I read any time I can and know I will be traveling with a lot of books.  Yes, they weigh a lot but the fact that I can pull out a book at any time and escape a little bit makes a world of difference for me.

Be a nice human being. Unfortunately sometimes going to a conference means that some people forget to be nice, or completely forget to be professional.  We are all busy, we all have places to be, and yes, we probably have many people we would love to be speaking to.  But be nice.  Be kind to the people that speak to you.  Help others.  Look for people who are alone or seem like they don’t know what they are doing, after all, that person may be me.

Represent.  I tell my students this whenever they leave our classroom and the word carries us out into the world.  Remember, you are not just there representing yourself, you are representing your entire school community and your family.  I go to conferences to share the words of my students, to help them change the way education is done to kids all around the world.  That is not something I take lightly and so I behave appropriately.  I have heard crazy stories of conference after parties, and I certainly have no intention of becoming part of those stories.

What else would you add to those traveling to conferences by themselves?

PS:  To see where I am traveling to, go here – hopefully our paths will cross this summer.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being me, conferences, connect

Well Hello ISTE 2015!

I have never been to ISTE.   A few times I have almost gone and something has always gotten in the way; finances, pregnancies, courage…  I hear ISTE is amazing and yet I am so terribly nervous to finally be going.  Will I get lost (probably), will I feel overwhelmed (probably), but more importantly – will I get to meet all of the amazing people I want to meet?  Will I get to make connections?  Will it be worthwhile?

So if you are going to ISTE, I would love to meet you.  I am pretty shy when it comes to meeting people, but this will be my chance to work through that.  So where can I be found for sure?

Bloggers Cafe – I think this will be my preferred hang out spot.  The only reason I get to do all of the incredible things I get to do is because of my blog.

Sunday:

ISTE Townhall Lead & Transform Panel – Sunday, June 28th 9 AM to 11:30 AM.  I am honored to be the teacher representative on this panel where we get to discuss how we are changing professional learning in our communities.  The best part of the panel is that I get to listen to  he amazing students from SLA, who will start the discussion!

ISTE Ignite Sunday, June 28th 1:30 PM to 3  PM.  I have dreamed of doing an Ignite for several years and what better place to try it than at ISTE.  I don’t know whether I am more excited to speak about having courage to create passionate learning environments or listen to the other Ignite presenters!

Monday:

Monday morning – Award breakfast where the Global Read Aloud and I will be honored with the ISTE Innovation in Global Collaboration Award. 

Monday lunch – The ISTE Making IT Happen award luncheon.

Tuesday:

Set Their Voices Free:  How Students Can Share Their Stories – Tuesday, June 30th 10:45 AM to 11: 45 AM.  I am pumped to be presenting on this topic and with these people; Erin Klein and Colby Sharp.  We started planning this session this week and it promises to be hands-on with time to work, discuss, and share ideas.  Isn’t that what we all hope to get from a session.

Wednesday:

Corwin Connected Educator PanelWednesday, July 1st 8:30 – 9:30 AM.  I get to see some of my favorite people and discuss one of my passions; how do we empower students and staff in our schools with my friend and inspiration, Tony Sinanis.  What isn’t there to like?

Other than that I plan on hanging around the Skype booth and otherwise bopping around.  So if you are there, please say hello.  I am going to make as many connections as possible and would love to connect with you.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, conferences, student choice, student voice, Student-led conferences

Student-Led Conferences, Even at the Middle School…

I sit here quietly, listening to them speak…

“I read 26 books this year, last year I read just read 10.”

“I learned that if I study I do much better.”

“I found out that I don’t work so well with my friends, so I can’t sit by them.”

They say this with downcast eyes, shy glances, waiting for the reaction.  Waiting for the comments they know will come.

And they do.

“Wow, that’s a lot of books!”

“What a great thing to learn…”

“Yeah, I don’t learn with my friends so well either…”

They tell their stories in front of us, knowing that our faces can corroborate or distort their versions.  They put themselves out there for us to see; teachers and parents.  They gather, they practice, and they decide; what story will they share?  What will their parents leave knowing?  Who will they become once their parents come into these hallowed hallways and they are no longer surrounded by friends?

So I sit here grateful that I get to listen in.  That I get to see the care they take.  The consideration they put into their words and how their parents thoughtfully ponder and prod when needed.  I didn’t know if student-led conferences would be enough for parents at the middle school level.  I didn’t know if the kids could do it.  I didn’t know what they would say, if they would care, if their parents would get all of the information they needed.  But they did and they have.  And I sit here listening to their stories and uncover the bits and pieces that have seemed to be missing for me all year.  Now, I understand why a child reacts that way.  Now I see how they tick.  I wish I would have know that much sooner.

When our students share their stories, we let them figure themselves out.  We let them decide what they need to tell, what they need to work on.  We help them prepare, push them harder to uncover their challenges and embrace them rather than hide them away.  When we do student-led conferences, whether completely or as part of our conference, we let the students decide how they will be known.  Think of the power in that.  Think of what that tells their students about their voice and the choices they make.

PS:  Want to learn more about actually doing student-led conferences, go here

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” will be published by Routledge in the fall.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, conferences, ideas, parents

3 Ideas For More Meaningful 5 Minute Parent/Teacher Conferences

image from icanread

This week I had my first experience with the 5 minute drive-by conference.  You know the one; all the teachers in the lunchroom at their own table, parents waiting in line, and once the timer starts, off we go for non-stop talking, the only caveat being you only get 5 minutes.  Not exactly my cozy student-led conferences that I love so much.  Why the change?  Besides that this is how we do it at my new school, I also have 113 students.  I don’t even know how I could possibly give them a longer student-led conference at the moment without spending weeks on it.  And still, I wanted my students to be a part of it. I still wanted it to be worth the time for the parents, I wanted it to be meaningful.  I therefore did this:

The students reflected beforehand.  As always I had my students reflect on what their grades should be, what they were proud of and what they accomplished.  I invited all of my students to come to their conference but knew that few of them would, but their voice needs to be present.  This sheet allowed me to have the conference focus on their learning journey, not just what my thoughts were.

I reflected and wrote down beforehand.  I knew it would take a long time for me to write strengths and goals for all of my students, but I knew it was worth it.  In the week preceding conferences I spent every evening thinking about each child, writing down what I knew I wanted to share (beside their grades).  I didn’t want the conference to be focused on the grades, I wanted it to be focused on the child.  I was then able to share what my thoughts were after we looked at the student’s reflection.

I asked the parents how they felt and what they thought.  My gut reaction was to not ask any questions and just run it as a fast monologue.  After all, with only 5 minutes I have a lot to cover, but that is not the point of these conferences.  No matter the time limit, parents/guardians/students should always have the time to speak, even if you feel like it may eat up too much valuable time.

Always find something good and end with that.  Ok, so this is the fourth idea which I wrote about yesterday.  In every conference I made sure to end with something good.  I remember how it was as a kid to have your parents go to conferences without you; that nervous feeling, that growing sense of dread.  As a teacher I want to make sure my students know that I am in their corner, even if there are things to work on.  Often the last thing we say is the one that leaves the freshest impression, so make it something good.

Other small ideas include:

Be wiling to set up separate conferences.  I knew that some of my students needed more time for discussion so rater than wait for parents to contact me, I sent out a blanket email offering every child a longer conference at a different time in our classroom.  A few responded and there were even a few surprises of who wanted a longer one.  You never know until you ask.

Bring out the picture books. I send all student work home so instead of having their to display, I will have some awesome picture books out.  That way, parents can at least read some awesome stories while they wait.

Just listening.  Often parents know exactly what their child needs to work on or they have simply heard it before, so stop talking and listen.  Ask them questions and see how much they cover that you would have covered as well.  Parents know their kids, sometimes we seem to forget that (myself included).

Treat ever conference as if it is your first of the day.  Every parent deserves the best of you, so keep smiling, keep the energy up.  Yes, I know it is like running a marathon to be your very best self for 4 or more hours, but that is what you should be.  I had water and peppermints to help me keep up the spirit.  We owe it those waiting to meet with us.

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

being a teacher, conferences, Student

There Is Always Something Good

Every-child-has

I am exhausted.  Eyes feel like cotton balls, my head is spinning.  The boots on my feet feel like they weigh 20 pounds each.  Welcome to the day after parent-teacher conferences; a marathon of 5 minute conferences in a 4 hour span that leaves me feeling like I am not quite sure who I am or what I said.  And still…

I may have rushed through every conversation.  I may have not said everything I wanted to say.  I may not have fulfilled every hope, that happens when you are held to a 5 minute time limit (middle school conferences at their best).  I am not sure I was enough , the time definitely wasn’t, but I kn I know one thing for sure.  I know that in every conference I brought up something good.  I brought up something unique.  Something that the child brings to our classroom, brings to my life.  Every single child had something good mentioned.  Every single child was worth celebrating.

Yes, there are goals and challenges, ups and downs that need to be discussed.  Those pesky habits we are trying to break, those strong skills we are trying to teach.  The strides we have to make, the plans we have to lay.  But there is also good.  And goodness in every child.  Every child has something positive worth sharing.  Every child is worth us smiling about.  So even if the academics are in shambles, and who knew where those behaviors are coming from, look for the good, perhaps dig really deep, but remember, that these are children we get to talk about.  Children who are learning what it means to be successful.  Children who are learning from their mistakes.  Children whose parents send us their very best child every day.  Parents who need to hear that we see something worth believing in.

There is always something good to share, it is our job to uncover it.  Just like our students uncover it in us every day.  Just like parents believe in us every day.  So dig deep if you must, but don’t give up.  Uncover the goodness in each child.  Uncover your belief that they can be good.

photo

PS:  I cannot wait to do student-led conferences in the spring…

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now from Powerful Learning Press.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.