Spring Convening- March 23rd, 2016
So, this my 4th and final Convening with the Michigan Voice Educator Fellowship started out with the usual excitement of connecting with educators from around the state who are passionate, motivated change makers for the benefit of our students. I was able to make my rounds during breakfast and say hello to fellows I had not seen since August but had continued to converse with via twitter and Voxer throughout the school year. However, before the convening kicked off I jumped on the shuttle with a handful of fellows and we made our way to the Capitol where we had scheduled meetings with different legislators to discuss education topics that we are eager to see improved. Earlier in the month of March I attended a session by Michelle Ribant- Director of 21st Century Learning with the MDE on Michigan's technology plan for the next 5 years. After she was done speaking I rushed up and shared my contact information and asked if she would be available to meet when I was in Lansing for the convening. She immediately checked her schedule and penciled me in. How exciting to sit down at the Michigan Department of Education to talk about the future of technology integration in our schools! During this hour long meeting which we all wished could have lasted all day, we were invited to join the different task groups to create and form this technology plan that will be shared next Fall. We look forward to the work ahead of us!
After our morning meetings we headed back for a delicious lunch and some more networking and sharing. It was at this time that I was able to share with everyone the #TeachStrong Campaign that 5 of us were chosen as Ambassadors for. Below is a link for the information I shared.
Afternoon Trip to Effect Change~
It was a quick lunch and then back onto the shuttle. This time the shuttle was filled with educators who were headed to the Capitol with their elevator pitches in the front of their minds and some 1 pagers of bullet points for needed change in their areas of concern. I was headed to the Capitol knowing I was the guide but had only quickly walked through the Capitol earlier that morning for the first time. It is more important to be open to new experiences and figuring things out along the way sometimes while leaning on others. Luckily Fellows Gina Wilson and Daniel Giddings had experienced the process of calling out Senators from session that morning and could fill me in on the steps to take during the House session in the afternoon. We arrived and were ready to see who we could talk to. Each of us approached the crowded hall where students, lobbyists and others waited to take their turn. We were given a pad of paper by the men in red coats guarding the door where we wrote the name of the Representative, our name and message. We were told that during session it does not look very well if these requests are ignored. Once the message is delivered anywhere from ten minutes to thirty minutes can pass before your Representative will appear and allow you to deliver your pitch. Johnita Porter shared the need for Universal Design for Learning. Mike Kaechele shared the importance of Project Based Learning, Dan Polleys approached any and all Representatives that he could catch to discuss his idea for vouchers instead of standardize tests for interested parents. I did not send in a note to talk with State Representative Winnie Brinks but was lucky enough to see her when she was looking for someone else. I hope to make more contact with her back at home and share #TeachStrong and Pre-Teacher preparation. Many more fellows joined in the trip to the Capitol and I hope that we can take this experience and plan another meeting at the Capitol for #TeachStrong Ambassadors and Advocates before next November.
Panel Session- Awesome Moderator Matt McCullough
With the after affects of the excitement still running through us, we headed back to the Convening for the grand finale of the day-The Policy Panel. Fellow Matt McCullough did a great job as moderator as he led the panel members through questions ranging from Teacher preparation to technology use in the classroom. The panel consisted of the following;
- Michelle Fecteau, Secretary of the Michigan State Board of Education
- Leah Breen, Director of Office of Professional Preparation Services MDE
- Annie Brown, School Board Trustee and Candidate for State Rep HD-66
- Jeff Bean, Placement Coordinator & Instructor at Ferris State University
The convening ended with appetizers and drinks in celebration of all the hard work this incredible team of fellows has achieved over the past 8 months. We had a goal of 100 tasks; blogs, presentations, opeds etc. for the year. We have already hit and surpassed this goal with over 300! We could not ask for a more passionate group of educators who know that true influence and change can only come from those who are in the classroom. We are the ones working daily with our greatest asset and most precious treasure-our students! We must continue to work to influence change in the education system. Thank you America Achieves for giving us the push needed to raise our voices!
Half of my Incredible Tech Dream Team
Overall Amazing Convening with Michigan Educator Voice Fellows
I cannot say enough thanks for all that I have experienced and learned these past two years!