VSS Conference 2009

Have you ever experienced an absolutely overwhelming professional development event? For example, a conference where your mind feels so full of new and interesting information that if one more idea tries to fit into your brain, your head will explode? I’m sure that would never actually happen, but you know what I mean…

That’s how I felt last week at the 2009 VSS Annual Spring Conference. I still feel ‘full’, although my mind has had a couple of days to sift through and absorb the experience. It was a great conference for many reasons and the three days I attended were filled with opportunities for learning and networking. If I have time, I would like to write a few posts about the conference, but for now, I’ll sum up the experience with my four favourites.

My favourite keynote speaker was Michael Horn. He is a brilliant man, the kind of person I could sit and listen to for days. Michael’s keynote focused on applying the theory of disruptive innovation to the field of education. It was an interesting blend of MBA vernacular and what’s happening in education today. I’ve just started reading the book he co-authored, Disrupting Class, upon which the keynote was based. So far, I like it. I like the writing style and the argument that is building makes sense. The book is U.S. based, but definitely applicable outside of the States.

My favourite session was “What’s New on the Net” presented by John Goldsmith. The session I attended was standing room only. John went through his blogsite, DE Tools of the Trade, a resource you don’t want to miss! From free online file converters to online safety sites, there are countless websites to explore.

My favourite coincidence was being invited by Betty to sit with her one morning. I sat down, Betty introduced me to the two other women at the table, and the small talk continued.  The interesting part was that I sat right next to a lady named Claire. After a few minutes, Betty pointed out that I follow Claire’s blog, at which point I realized I was sitting beside someone that I knew of and had ‘met’, but only virtually through blogging! I have been reading Claire’s blog since last summer. I like what she has to say so I have commented on her posts and she’s replied back. Last Thursday morning, I sat right next to her and never would have realized who she was had it not been for the fact that Betty made the connection.

My favourite exhibitor was virtualmuseum.ca. You have to check this out. This site allows teachers to create and store lesson plans using interactive, multimedia material based on content found in Canadian museums. Created by the Department of Canadian Heritage, it is very clever and has a lot of potential uses. 

Finally, the benefits of attending a conference are not limited to the formal learning that occurs. It was a really great week for me. Playing Wii Tennis at an exhibitor’s booth with Lisa was fun, even if she did beat me! Going out to watch the Canucks win the fourth game of the series and sweep St. Louis was awesome! And all the fun little experiences, the quick yummy breakfasts, shopping trips with family and inside jokes involving crayons, made it a very memorable, stimulating and exciting week for me.

Imagery by me.