Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A decade of ADE lessons


Yesterday marked exactly 10 years since this photo was taken: a decade of belonging to the Apple Distinguished Educator Community. In some aspects of my life 10 years is but a blink of the eye, but in terms of an educational movement and the passion to make a difference, 10 years is a sustainable force.

And a life-changing force that I don't take for granted.

This month I had the opportunity of attending my 11th ADE Institute-- the 2017 US ADE Academy held in Houston, Texas from July 17-20. During this it was easy to reflect on the lasting lessons I've learned as an ADE through a decade of experiences, a decade of nurtured growth, and most importantly a decade of perspective. These themes include:
  • Relationships matter.
  • To innovate, you need to create.
  • Access for all: all ages, all abilities, all interests
  • There is joy in the learning process-- celebrate it!
  • and, again, relationships matter!
But it is really the shifts in my thinking, the ways that I've changed-- it is these lessons that stick with me even more strongly.

Firstly, global collaboration is one of our most untapped opportunities. This is true in all of education and especially true amongst our ADE Family. I used to think it was an educational 'extra', but I now see more than ever the absolute necessity of it. Why we don't call upon each other more often and in even more meaningful ways is a tragedy. So used to working in silos, as members of the ADE Community we have no excuse! Whether co-presenting at a conference, cooperating on a project across continents, or connecting one classroom with another, collaboration with my ADE community continues to be an area of emphasis in my professional practice.
Secondly, it isn't enough to be good. We must also be brave. Nothing could exemplify this more than Sady Paulson. Meeting her in person after following her for years via Mark Coppin was a lifetime highlight for me. And this wasn't the only embodiment of bravery that I see in my ADE family. It is everywhere, in so many ways. In the courage to think differently, to break the mold, to go beyond the minimum on a daily basis.
Third, design for the margins. "When you design for the margins, things work better for everyone."
Why create, present, educate, for the average when I can have a broader impact by addressing the needs of the outliers? There is no such thing as an 'average learner', so by targeting the far ends of the spectrum I can actually reach more in the process. This is a lasting lesson I have learned that has been reiterated by Apple's commitment to accessibility for all. It also is a guiding principle when working with other ADEs to create transformation concepts, content, and experiences. 
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And finally, as I deal with yet another post-ADE-event let down, I now see conclusions differently. It isn't the end of an Institute, Academy, or even a decade. But rather, each conclusion is a call to action. There is so much unfinished business for me and for all of us as ADEs! And that is what will continue to drive me forward for hopefully many more decades to come.