And that’s a wrap….
iPadpaloozaGC has just finished up, and as I sit here, exhausted, it’s time to reflect. This conference has been a year in the making, and as I look back over countless hours of work I am filled with pride for the team behind this incredible event, and a goal achieved – to produce a learning festival focused on creativity, innovative pedagogies and inclusivity.
This was an event run by teachers, for teachers. All our decisions were focused on the idea that we work in support of our students, and that educators come to this profession out of a desire to make a difference.
We asked great people to present for us, and so many of them said yes, generously giving us their time and expertise. Our Apple Distinguished Educator family was a wonderful support as our team looked to create a schedule that honoured diversity and presented opportunities across the curriculum, school contexts, and pitched to a variety of levels of expertise/confidence/experience.
We also know that there are great educators who are not confident enough to put up their hand to share, but who have so much to contribute. So, we actively worked to encourage teachers in our own school and beyond to step up, and supported them to develop great workshops to share their story. We know that for some of these teachers, the personal professional growth has been extraordinarily rewarding, and that the results of their risk taking may have far-reaching benefits for students.
We didn’t micro-manage presenters on topics, and instead asked them to deliver on their passions. We said ‘yes’ to ideas as often as we could, whenever we could. As such, we had that spark of excitement and innovation for our audiences.
From the conference kick-off, we wanted our attendees to get involved, find their voice, and become active participants. Our crazy shirts and early activities signalled to participants that we were all in this together! We had worked hard on a program that supported a climate ripe for creativity and community building…and it worked.
In his post on iPadpaloozaGC, Richard Wells talks about the themes he felt developed throughout the three days, and I’d have to say the concepts he identified resonated for our organising team too. This event was always about putting students first, and empowering teachers to explore new ways of working in the classroom (while having a whole lot of fun).
“If I could explain the reasons for the success of this conference, it would have to be ‘the vibe’…Not only were all the presenters professional, but friendly, warm, relaxed and casual. This approach was a great idea, considering that we were all attending during our school holiday break. Although iPads and iOS were a feature common to presenters and delegates alike, it was not about the device. But rather, the learning. We were there to stretch ourselves as teachers, to keep pace with newer technologies like bots, coding, drones, new apps and 3D printing; or whatever took your fancy. The choices were rich! In fact deciding which workshops to choose from was the hardest part.”
Dr Micheal Carr-Gregg gave a wonderful opening keynote presentation on well-being and mental health for young people, and connected these important ideas to the concept of ‘success’ for children in education. He unpacked assumptions held about students and their use of technology, and urged teachers to direct their practice towards ‘the whole child’. You can read the notes Nicola Flanagan took here…
Troy Hunt delivered our day two keynote, moving between ‘inspiring and scary’ for many participants, highlighting the need for all teachers to understand online behaviour and basic security risks for young learners. This presentation was particularly interesting for our audience given that Troy often deals with data breaches that reveal both a lack of understanding in the education community about how to protect personal information, and hackers themselves – usually young people.
Some other very inspiring presenters took to the main stage throughout an action-packed schedule. Craig Smith and Christopher Hills blew minds as they guided us through some accessibility challenges that reaffirmed the positive impact that technology can have towards inclusivity. Brett Salakas challenged us to a global STEM challenge. Dan Martinez showed us how the St Hilda’s motto, ‘Non Nobis Solum’ or ‘Not for Ourselves Alone’, was embodied by students working in support of their community in a cross-curricular design challenge. Richard Wells urged us to break out of current educational paradigms and explored practical and positive changes occurring in schools across New Zealand.
I could go on and on…
In our workshops, robots wreaked havoc, books were created, augmented reality sprang into action and there was some serious stop motion madness! Our participants were ready to share their learning and twitter was a buzz with early exploration, hot tips for teachers and light bulb moments.
Team St Hilda’s
An event like this takes some serious work, and it was successful because of an awesome team effort.
It was great to have the support of the American iPadpalooza team on site – this is the first time Carl Hooker’s iPadpalooza concept has ventured outside of the USA, and I can’t thank him enough for the support to get this off the ground here at St Hilda’s School. Lisa Johnson and Felix Jacomino really helped to make this an international affair, filled with fun, music and mayhem. With their physical presence, I also felt that they embodied the idea that through building our edu-networks online, though twitter, FB etc, we can develop powerful and supportive professional communities. We were so excited to host attendees from many countries and every state in Australia, as well as a big contingent of Kiwis – let’s hope these connections and friendships last.
The incredible Terry Jacka and Janelle Mauer have simply ‘lived and breathed’ this event. They made all the details happen, and they inspired me over and over again with their ‘can do’ attitude and never-ending positivity.
Dan Martinez worked on many aspects our wicked website and a million other things noone else could do. Geoff Powell was a constant support and sounding board, manning our control booth for the length of the conference. Beth Claydon and Dan also ran the awesome technology playground, and Simon Lees and Brandt Ward delivered some really super STEM!
No job was too big or too small for the wonderful people on our St Hilda’s staff, our friends and colleagues. They stuffed bags, printed posters, handed out lanyards and asked us, ‘how can I help?’. There are so many teacher, services, IT, maintenance and administration teammates we need to thank again, and maybe hug, over the next few days (or forever!).
Our pre-Palooza extended sessions allowed teachers to take those deeper dives into special interest areas – thank you to Paul Hamilton, Simon Lees, Brandt Ward and Richard Wells for developing such great programs for us.
We really did appreciate all the efforts of our incredible presenters who prepared exceptional learning experiences for our participants. Some of these superstars travelled a long way, and at personal expense, to share their ideas with our wider education community.
Learning & Laughing!
So, that’s a bit of a summary, but it is an inadequate one. I’ve struggled to capture in words the ‘feel’ of this event, the excitement throughout the spaces and the incredible potential within the enthusiasm of educators learning and laughing together. Take a look at this collection of images from our photographer Rick Connors and you’ll see all the smiles. The twitter feeds below and this great summary from Glenn Bruce also provide a pretty awesome ride through the three days.
But I guess if you really want to experience our iPadpaloozaGC learning festival, you’ll just have to wait until we do this all over again in 2018. See you there.