PL Summit 2019: Where We Built Networks to Transform Education
It's been almost exactly 2 weeks since the 5th Annual Personalized Learning Summit came to an end, and our team still misses the biggest and best PL Summit we've had so far. We were left inspired and engaged – and we know many of you are, too – to continue the hard but meaningful work to reshape education in schools and districts.
With attendees joining us from 8 countries and 38 states across the US, we were lucky to be networking with a diverse group of education leaders from a wide range of districts and backgrounds. We welcomed back Chad Littlefield of We and Me, Inc., to lead us through energizing activities that helped us connect more deeply with one another. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when Golriz Lucina of SoulPancake shared story after story of human joy, resilience, and growth. We were moved to our feet by Principal Baruti Kafele's no-nonsense keynote about committing ourselves to transforming education from where we are. And this was just a few hours out of the whole Summit!
With 105 sessions over 2.5 days, there was something for everyone in attendance. Innovation Tours at 11 of the most innovative companies in Atlanta prompted meaningful conversations about the future of education and work. The Design Challenges expanded and codified our sense of what is possible in our classrooms and schools. In PL Simulations, we saw in action the creative PL techniques in use by teachers from across the country. In the Transformative Thoughts sessions, we heard from thought-leaders whose ideas reframed attendees’ approach to school design, leadership, pedagogy, and systems thinking. Attendees made connections to districts across the country, building peer networks that they’ll continue to use for months to come.
We're hearing from attendees that they've taken home a lot to think about and share with their teams in their schools and districts, and that they've made lasting connections with other attendees all over the world. For more in their own words, check out our PL Summit 2019 Twitter moment to see what attendees had to say about their Summit experience.
Traditionally, our COO Amy Jenkins shares her reflections on the PL Summit, having watched it grow over the past five years from 150 attendees to more than 700 in 2019 (see what she had to say about the 2018 PL Summit). This year, we sought out perspectives from fresh sets of eyes – below, you'll hear from those Ed Elements team members who attended their first PL Summit in 2019! See what they expected from the PL Summit, and what they ended up taking away from the whole experience.
Be sure to also sign up to receive updates about the PL Summit 2020, including location, venue, dates – and when registration opens!
Megan Campion - Associate Partner
Elevation, Pride, Insight, and Connection – these are the characteristics that create Peak Moments, according to Chip and Dan Heath’s The Power of Moments. Using this criteria, my first PL Summit was EPIC! From the profound, moving, and inspiring opening keynote through the connections reinforced by our closing shows of gratitude, I spent two days so inspired: by our Transformative Thoughts sessions, the creative PL Simulations presented by teachers in our partner districts, and the Backyard Bash – the most fun I’ve ever had playing Jenga. I hear from my veteran tEEmmates that each year the PL Summit gets better, so even though PL Summit 2019 was full of Peak Moments, I don’t think we’ve peaked yet!
Drew Schantz - Design Principal
Walking into my first PL Summit, I made a number of assumptions about what my experience would be like based on countless education conferences I’ve attended in the past. It’s safe to say nearly all of those assumptions were blown out of the water. Whereas I’ve been used to selecting from a starchy series of panel discussions, breakout sessions, and keynote speeches with varying degrees of relevance, the PL Summit truly lived up to its namesake: personalized. I was impressed by the diversity of content designed to meet the varying needs of Summit-goers, from Innovation Tours to one-on-one Transformative Coaching sessions and PL Simulations, there was truly something for everyone. PL novices and experts (and even fitness junkies) alike had experiences intentionally created to engage, challenge, and inspire.
Jessica Anderson - Email Marketing Specialist
The PL Summit showed me the power of connection. There were several moments throughout the week that demonstrated a commitment to creating meaningful connection. From intimate conversations during the Innovation Tours to guided exercises by Chad, each component of the Summit was thoughtfully curated. As someone who does not often interface with schools and districts as much in person, I got the opportunity to see at the summit the sincerity and depth of relationships that are being cultivated. It all served as a testament to the very theme of this year’s PL Summit: Building Networks and Transforming Education.
Andy Shaw - Design Principal
By far the best part of the Summit was connecting with clients, both those I work with on my own projects as well as clients who work with other EE consultants. It gave an opportunity for me to talk in more depth and breadth to my own clients, getting to know them better on a personal level, as well as hearing more from them about the exciting things they were learning at the Summit. And I loved meeting EE clients who work with my teammates, hearing about the exciting work they are doing in their districts.
One of my roles at this Summit was to organize all of the Transformative Thoughts workshops. It was a huge task, but it made me so happy to see so many presenters, from so many interesting areas of education, connecting with our attendees and sharing ideas. Not only did I get to learn this year about how to host a great event with a slate of amazing presenters, I also got to see in our attendees’ faces and responses the benefit of all the hard work the EE team put into creating this wonderful event.
Jill Thompson - Associate Partner
Inspiring – that is how I would describe the PL Summit in one word. I was inspired by all the amazing teachers who shared their PL knowledge during the PL Simulations. I was inspired by the amazing ideas during the Design Challenges of how schools and districts could transform education. I was inspired by the amazing keynotes and the surprise performance by the Creekside High School Marching Band. But I was most inspired by all the connections and networking that took place with people all around the world. Everyone at the conference was there for the same purpose, to improve education – and that is inspiring.
If you attended the PL Summit 2019 - thank you for making it our best Summit experience yet. If you missed out on the Summit this year, we hope these pictures and memories aren't giving you too much FOMO, but there's always next year!
About Japneet Kaur
Japneet is a community organizer, artist, communications specialist, and Associate Marketing Manager at Education Elements. Japneet has worked with non-profits as well as grassroots organizations to head marketing, brand management, and communications. With a keen interest in serving organizations that fight for social justice and equity, Japneet has spent more than a decade collaborating with youth organizations.