researchED US 2016: Assorted Scenes, Name-Drops, etc., from #rEDWash

Yeah yeah, I know I never stop when it comes to researchED. I was taken in with my first conference, and my appreciation for it has gone on and on (…and on and on and on), likely well past reasonable amounts of patience.

At bottom, though, I look at it this way: if all those words have caught your attention at least a little, or if through all the words I’ve been able to make clear how special and important I believe the whole researchED movement to be, they were words well spent.

Based on early reactions to this past weekend’s conference in Washington, DC, though, you may soon have to deal with even more ‘you gotta be there’-type enthusiasm about researchED in your media feeds. In the few days since the conference, I’ve lost track of how many new enthusiasts have engaged me on matters like requests for more such events in North America, queries relating to talks they heard, questions about how to best connect with other conference-goers, etc., etc., etc.

It’s all very exciting, of course, as stirring and sharing ideas about effective education is what researchED is about in the first place. Here’s to hoping it grows and grows. I’d love for all educators to know what it all feels like first-hand.

All that said, I’m following up on my deck-sharing post from a few days ago to give some bulleted glimpses of highlights I took away from Saturday’s conference. I’d give a more complete review (especially of speakers’ talks), but as a conference organizer I spent the bulk of the day running around to keep things like lunch, coffee, A-V, and the like operating (close to) smoothly.

FRIDAY PRIOR:

  • Taking the Metro in from my hotel after learning how close the nearest station was. It was a wonderful tip (courtesy of my well-traveled friend Lori — thanks, L!), as the train became my main transportation all weekend long.
  • Sipping mid-morning coffee with Tom Bennett (researchED’s Papa Bear) and David Didau (Twitter’s Learning Spy and a favorite ed author/thinker of mine — I’m reading his and Nick Rose’s book right now, actually, and it’s brilliant). It’d been too long since I’d seen either of them, so the visit’s a great treat. Might be my first real sense that any of this is actually happening.
  • Meeting a bunch of other speakers for a tour of the White House, graciously arranged for us by the very talented Seth Andrew (one of our conference speakers). While waiting in line and chit-chatting, I introduce Holly Shapiro, one of the WH tourist-speakers, and her husband Matt to David (whose work, by the way, I know through Twitter that Holly greatly admires). Ed Cases, their reaction is one I’ll never forget. So happy to have been there for it.   ddek
  • Riding up into Maryland (thanks, Hilarie!) for a luncheon at the gorgeous Center for Transformational Teaching and Learning, meeting the generous and energetic Glenn Whitman, having a great meal, and sharing a great stand-up chat about education by the buffet table with Dr Ian Kelleher.
  • Dinner and drinks with David, joined by the amazing Optimist Prime and partner. So many laughs, such great people. Perfect before a train ride to hotel, some presentation-cramming, some wind-down reading, and crashing.

CONFERENCE SATURDAY:

  • Rushing around CHEC as the sun’s coming up (took this pic  wm from my Uber during ride in — DC even better than I’d imagined) to arrange classrooms into more talk-suitable orientations, getting assistance from various kind people — even a couple educator-friends of mine who’d made the trip out from Minnesota (thanks, Andy & Carrie!). How deep, the generosity? Bryan Penfound even ran to Starbucks to make sure all the pre-event stress was properly fueled.
  • Emerging from the classrooms area (where I also get to help literacy champion Steve Dykstra and Tom set up for presentations) to registration area and getting slammed aback: LOTS of high education-brainpower has assembled in the past frenetic hour or so. People like Ze’ev Wurman, Ben Riley (who, as he’s now clean-shaven, I nearly walk right past — looking great, Ben!), Giselle Martin-Kniep, Ulrich Boser, and Kate Walsh are milling about, so I welcome as many as I can. Would linger longer with each, but the opening remarks are about to begin…
  • Blowing into CHEC’s ‘Model UN’ auditorium space for Dylan Wiliam (!)’s keynote. I say a quick hello to Dr Wiliam; he tells me he enjoyed reading my book and that he’d love to chat sometime. A little dazed and nodding, say something (but I have no idea what) back. Spot Lindsay Malanga in the house and Lisa Hansel stops me to introduce herself. (This is so awesome.) Dr Wiliam’s keynote is thoughtful and well-evidenced (and funny!), setting the day off on a perfect researchED-ly foot. As the talk moves, I’m pretty sure I can feel the room coming to a proper buzz. Some of my tweets in the moment:

https://twitter.com/erickalenze/status/792375897999433729

 

 

  • Hurrying around looking for the greatest facilities staff ever (thanks, Will & Pankaj!) so we can handle some tech issue or another, I see one of my favorite ed thinkers, Robert Pondiscio, standing at the front door. I drop whatever else I’m up to, let him in, and have a quick hallway-length conversation with him. Oh, then of course I bug him for a selfie with me and he obliges. Boom. rpek Bonus: all three of the amazing Learning Scientists (Yana Weinstein [who is also a fabulous editor, I should add], Megan Smith, and Cindy Woolridge) are at a nearby table doing some last-minute talk prep.
  • Continuing the room-to-room shuttle, I end up missing huge chunks of the speakers. (Through it all, though, I get to stop so I can properly meet TNTP’s great Liesl Groberg. It’s at the door and I’m carrying in huge bags of sandwiches, but at least I get to say a proper hello.) I drop into speakers’ talks wherever I get a few minutes, though, and groove on all the inspiration and insights. Steve Dykstra, Kate Walsh  kw2, Robert Pondiscio, Ben Riley 20161029_154231, and Rob Craigen rc all pretty well blow my mind. Hard to believe they’re all in the same place. Even better, their sessions include watching them field questions from all the other ed superheroes in attendance. Simply, this kind and this level of conversation about our enterprise can’t be seen anywhere else.
  • Giving my talk in the early afternoon, just after a lunch that goes long because people are so engrossed in conversations. The talk goes pretty well, I think, but a bit of a blur. (I will Storify the Tweets later, stay tuned. For now, here’s proof that I was there, courtesy of Howard Greville-Giddings: dsc_3290)
  • Still running all over the place in the afternoon, missing lots more talks. I get a DM from Sarah Thomas (yes, HER, the #edumatch founder) to meet her at the front door. I do, and find her to be one of the happiest, most gracious important people I’ve ever met. (Plus, Sarah and I get to fill our bucket by meeting Will [CHEC’s facilities guy, remember?]’s darling family, sharing a family moment just inside the door. Perfect.) Get Sarah her badge, show her her room, and post up to watch her talk. Here she is: st  Oh, and quick note about Sarah’s talk: if you aren’t familiar with #edumatch and all the ways it’s connecting eds, you really have to check it out. Great, GREAT potential there, thanks to all of her work.
  • Filing in to the closing comments, back in the auditorium. About 3/4 of the original crowd is left to hear Tom Bennett wrap, and the whole thing feels downright victorious. Once we put the classrooms back in order (lucky we took pictures in advance — thanks again, Andy, for your administrative foresight), we’ll be able to head to the pub.

GENERAL NOTES:

  • LOTS of regrets about chats I wanted to have but couldn’t. Was so looking forward to meeting so many of these people, but time just went too fast. All the more reason to book another one soon, right?
  • Made a bunch of new associations I can’t wait to follow up on. You all know who you are, and you all have my contact info. Please be in touch!
  • Huge thanks to all those who helped so much with set-up, tear-down, the day’s A-V and logistics challenges, and the like. researchED is ‘by us for us’ to its core, and it couldn’t run without assistance like yours. It was so great to work with you. Especially big on these scores, by the way, were Andy, Carrie, Bryan, Jessie, Nils, and JoAnne. Thanks to all of you.

FINALLY:

Big cheers to all in attendance (reach out t0 say hello, by the way, if reading this — and feel free also to post your own recaps if able), and big invitations to all who read this and find it intriguing. Watch this space, researchED’s site, and/or some particularly researchED-ly Twitter accounts (start with mine, researchED_US, researchED home, and Tom Bennett‘s, for example, and go from there), and you should have news fairly soon about other things we’re looking at, stateside and internationally. We’d love to have you at any of them!

Now, back to writing about non-researchED-related ed stuff for a while. See you soon, Ed Cases.

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