I was recently struck by a piece by Elena Aguilar, the “coach’s coach,” about acting in one’s sphere of influence to create change. She writes that when looking at making change in the world, the best place to start is within one’s sphere of influence. In other words, systemic change is not just a collective responsibility, it’s also an individual responsibility.
The best conferences are generally those that expand your thinking, reframe a current problem, provide practical recommendations, and encourage networking. At Education Elements, we not only attend conferences on a regular basis to expand our thinking, but we also keynote, and host our own regional and national events as well as our Summit in May – all of which get outstanding reviews. That makes us a bit of an expert on which conferences rise to the top.
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The end of one year and the beginning of the next is frequently a time of reflection and introspection, writing lists, and making resolutions. In the spirit of the season, I've been reflecting on my time with Education Elements. I’ve been a part of the Ed Elements team since 2013 - not quite six years - and in that time, I’ve seen quite a lot of change in the work we do and the work schools and districts ask us to do. But, I’ve also been surprised and proud at how much has remained the same in terms of our mission, culture, and how we think about these challenges.
When it comes to edtech I agree with the recent Forbes magazine article that student outcomes matter. Making a difference for students is why I first became an educator, then a school leader, and why I work in an edtech start-up. As the newness and shininess of edtech tools begins to wear off a bit, it comes as no surprise that everyone is starting to focus more on the return on the investment, rather than just talking about the investment itself. As a country we’ve invested millions through Race to the Top, venture funding, and district-level purchases of both hardware and software, and the efficacy of these investments and the connection between inputs and outputs as a whole remains unclear.
On Friday, March 14, as part of ASCD, district leaders from around the country including two Superintendents of the Year, a Race to the Top Winner, and district leaders from the League of Innovative Schools joined Education Elements and former President of Starbucks Howard Behar at a dinner where Howard shared his experiences about leading through growth and change at Starbucks.