There are times in your life when you step outside your body for an instance and with your mouth hanging open, think, surely I am not worthy/ lucky enough to be in THIS place with THESE people. Tonight I had a few of those times.
But first let me tell you how I got to be in those places and times.
Yesterday was outing day. All 150 of us loaded buses and saw some of what Nashville had to offer. We visited the Ryman Auditorium, Honkey Tonk Strip, Music Row, The Parthenon (Seriously), the ATT building (also known as the Batman Building), and The Country Music Hall of Fame. All were amazing! The pictures below do not do them justice.
I was questioning the thought behind having the outings in the 2nd day. I was ready to start the sessions and learn from these amazing people. I want to see Nashville but I am here to learn. That said… I get it now! CONNECTIONS! When you travel Nashville with a group of people you can't help but make memories. 100 Den Stars jumping off the Parthenon steps in unison, singing on the bus, finding an open honkey tonk at 10 a.m., taking pictures with Elvis, and so on. Personal Connections that is the key.
After the tour, we had 2 hours of coveted personal time. What to do….nap, catch up on email, nap, shower, nap? My roommate got a call from another teacher in her district….y'all come down to our room, bring your devices.
We walked in and the conversations were already underway. "How can teachers market themselves in the business world?" "What technology do you have in your district?" "You should try____________." On and on these topics flowed. People walked in and walk out, joined in and debated. Conversation turned to Apps and Garage Band came up. "Have you ever had a jam session?" Uhhhhh No! So the 5 of us jammed (I needed an intervention to make this possible, one in the form of someone keeping the beat because I couldn't). We recored a 30 second original song. It will never win a grammy or have a place in the Hall of Fame. That is ok. This is what the Summer Institute is all about. I am more than happy with the memory.
After the last session ended at 8, we were faced with another choice. Head on to bed and recoup for tomorrow, or socialize, play games, and connect in the lobby. HA! Sleep is overrated anyway. We head on into the lobby and see the coveted couch with seats available. SCORE! Seriously though this is the comfiest couch ever.
Let the games begin! A group of us played the game heads up. (the popular Ellen charades iPad game) During the middle of the game I had another moment. I was watching myself act out the Rocky movie while Adam Bellow was yelling out answers. Adam Bellow, app designer, ISTE keynote speaker, author, and great charades player. MORE CONNECTIONS!
There are a hand full of educators who I hold to Super Star status. For me they rank up there with the likes of Julia Roberts and Bon Jovi. A lot of these super stars are here at the Summer Institute. They don't have entourages (even though I would sign up for that job in a heart beat). I am not even sure they know that we all are in awe every time they talk.
The game ended and conversations started. Carlos Fernandez talked about the process of making his backchannel website -81dash. He talked about collaborating and I shared how we "Tune" our CBL projects in our district. Questions arose and new topics started. Dean Shareski shared how to do a lip sync video and gave us helpful hints of what pitfalls to avoid. Side note- Dean Shareski followed me on twitter at 2 in the morning. OMG!
Conversations stretched into 11:30 and all of us were hesitant to leave. The Vice President of Learning Communities for Discovery Ed, Lance Rougeax, walked in and thoughts of leaving quickly left. It was then decided to play one more game. It was all so surreal. I am not qualified to be here, to be in the presence of these people even if we are playing a game of hum that tune. I get that, but I am here, and I plan on making the most of it anyway.
On tap for tomorrow are sessions with Lodge McCammon, Adam Bellow, Steve Dembo, Kathy Schrock and many more.