ISTE2016 Summary – Closing Keynote with Michelle Cordy

Michelle opened with the title slide: “Show Up and Refuse to Leave.”

She explained the story of how she started a 1:1 pilot program, and being that she was the only teacher at her school doing so, she reached to books for support and ideas. She wrote a blog post about one of the books she read, tweeted to the author, and he responded. That excitement she felt was palpable.

She then moved on to talk about the connections between groups, and their power. She explained that graphite and diamond are chemically the same, but the organization of the units in the structure, the carbon, change the properties of the products. She says this is a metaphor for how some groups of people can accomplish more than other groups. She continued to explain that ISTE is a large network, and because of the connections of all the members of the group, we accomplish great things. But we can go further, we can engage more.

Her next point was that this community has taught her through the years that we should Engage and Empower. She went on to explain how engagement drives our students, and we are great at empowering them. But we should be more, should be encouraging Mindfulness, for ourselves and our students.

Her last point is the power of Disruption, but she says we need to move from Disruption to Stewardship. “Education isn’t broken, and I’m not here to fix it. Education is an ecosystem, and ecosystems don’t break.” She explains that by moving away from disruption, we can take away some of the aggressiveness that we may be projecting, and ultimately be more inclusive of other teachers. She goes on to say that the problem with disruption is that we risk taking away a students’ now for their then.

Something that Michelle does that I really like is use a GoPro camera, attached to a student with a chest harness, to record various lessons her students work on. She then edits them together, and it gives a very powerful view into her room. Through these videos, we see her students truly engaged, and more powerfully, we get to see them truly enjoying learning. She showed us a handful of clips of her 3rd graders, and they were excellent.

After how thoroughly inspiring and eyeopening Ruha Benjamin’s talk was, Michelle Cordy’s is a striking contrast. Her style is more relaxed, more informal, more personal. A great programming choice by the people at ISTE, as the fun style lets us leave the conference in a great mood.

She ended her speech by saying goodbye to each of her students (today is her last day of school), showing each of their pictures on the screen and saying goodbye to them by name, one at a time. With each one she gave her own promise to each, summarizing the points of her speech.

Overall, an excellent presentation, and an excellent week. Stay tuned for something new coming in the next couple days…