On March 6th, 2020, Holy Cross played host to the annual MassCUE & MASCD Spring Leadership Conference. The sun was shining, the facility was perfect and it was a great day for learning, listening and sharing. At the event I had the pleasure of working as MassCUE’s Social Media Ambassador. This was my very first Spring conference event and it was a wonderful experience. I left the conference feeling uplifted and inspired. If the conference is indeed a window into the current climate of education, our future looks bright.
The day started with keynote speaker Shawn Rubin, Chief Education Officer for the Highlander Institute and author of the book, Pathways to Personalization; A Framework for School Change. Shawn spoke passionately about personalized and blended learning, reminding us that successful implementation of this model takes time to mold. Not one model will work for all districts and for an initiative to take root all stakeholders; administration, teachers, students and parents, need to have a seat and a voice at the table.
Breakout sessions varied in their subject, focus and presentation style. Being a veteran of the fall conference I was pleased to find the Spring conference a smaller/gentler conference. Many presenters shared what blended/personalized learning looked like in their classrooms/schools/districts. They were genuine in their reflection, honest with their journey and more than willing to share any and all tricks of the trade they had gleaned along the way. Other presentations included student panels, where student voice was the focus. Students repeatedly reminded the rooms of educators that they wanted to be heard, and they wanted their words to matter.. Finally other presentations encouraged participants to push the walls of their comfort zones. Participants shared honestly about homework policies, grading policies and even the use of pronouns.
The after lunch keynote was delivered by a panel of professionals who are actively engaged in bringing Shawn Rubin’s book into practice. The Quabbin School District brought a team that discussed their pathway to student personalization. The teacher of the group was incredibly inspiring as she discussed her fears that students could not possibly learn the material without her leading the discussions and her revelation that learning happened, often at a deeper level, when she was providing the opportunities for struggle and growth.
When the conference finally came to a close, I left exhausted yet invigorated. It was nice to witness the direction that so many educators are deciding to travel when planning for the students in their care.
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Beth Haselton is the elementary technology teacher, grades 2-5, for the Seekonk Public Schools. Prior to this role she taught 4th grade for North Attleboro Public Schools for 10 years. Beth embraces the blended learning philosophy and believes technology allows all children to demonstrate what they know. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge of technology with colleagues and has provided several PD opportunities while working in North Attleboro. This fall Beth had the opportunity to share her love of Google extensions at the fall MassCUE conference. You can follow Beth on Twitter @MrsHaselton.