Spreading the Joy of Learning at the SDE (Staff Development for Educators) National Conference
Last week I had the honor of performing at one of the largest events on my calendar, keynoting at the SDE (Staff Development for Educators) National Conference for 5,500+ teachers in Las Vegas. It's a nationwide gathering for education professionals to refine skills, stay current, and brush up on the latest developments.
In the healthcare world, doctors do this too — they need to keep up on all the latest techniques and medications to ensure the health of their patients. So they attend conferences, listen to experts, and discuss with peers. In fact, all kinds of professions ask their practitioners to stay current and sharpen their toolbox. Because in this attention economy, information moves fast and being armed with the latest understanding and best practices can sometimes make all the difference in terms of impact and outcomes.
I know of a few teachers who changed my life (and I've told some of those stories here) and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that a few of them may have saved my life more than once. Just like doctors do. And yet I bet these teachers I spoke with (along with the other three million underpaid and overworked educators in the US) would be ecstatic with even one-third of a doctor's salary, as a reasonable reward for the impact they can make.
The more I think about what it takes to be a quality teacher — the talent, learning, and patiently acquired skills — the more I'm certain we need a much larger revolution than just a few strikes and walkouts around the country pleading for the bare basics like a few more dollars, textbooks that don't crumble into dust when you pick them up, and air conditioners for kids sweating it out in sardine-packed rooms.
Look at it this way. The tagline for the SDE conference is "Joyful Learning Starts with You."
How can we expect our teachers to communicate the joy of learning to our kids if we don't allow them to feel that joy themselves? We need to take better care of the people who take care of our kids. We need to help them tend their own flames, so they can use them to spark those precious "aha" moments in the classroom.
Take a minute and visualize with me what it would look like if we had a society where we valued our kids enough to want to give them the best possible teachers. Happy, fulfilled, well-appreciated teachers, armed with the resources and skills they need to create the next generation of thinkers and leaders and creators.
And then let's make it a reality.
Thanks to Melissa Hunt (@melh5566_hunt on Twitter) for sharing this photo from the conference!