TEDx Saskatoon

Given I'm married to an educator, have a daughter just beginning her teaching career interesting in talking shop and spending a good chunk of time online with educators it's no surprise that a day learning and in conversation with many folks outside of education is a breath of fresh air. 

I was honored to be part of TEDx Saskatoon. I spent the last week engrossed in trying not to suck and I think I at least accomplished that goal. I was also happy to give my talk in the first set which allowed me to totally focus on the ideas and talks of the other speakers as well as engage in some pretty interesting conversations with strangers. I heart strangers.

The organizers put on a first class day. All the details were covered and they represented TED and Saskatoon extremely well. The volunteer hours to put on an event like this is pretty significant and you can't help but be impressed with the dedication.

While all the talks offered something, let me share a few highlights.

Ainsley Robertson is a young women who co-founded The Princess Shop.

The Princess Shop creates an enhanced graduation experience for female students in need, and provides them with mentorship, support, and the tools to pursue success after graduation. Princess Graduates have the opportunity to be lent a graduation dress, accessories, shoes, etc. donated by members of our community. 

Ainsley told her story as a fairy tale and her own humility, energy and determination shone through and creating an inspiring talk. This was a story that celebrated community and proved that a good idea, compassion and support can change people's lives.

Probably my favorite talk was from Jeff Nachtigall. Jeff is currently artist in residence at the Sherbourne Community Centre. Jeff's ideas about creativity align pretty closed with Sir Ken Robinson's and he extended the ideas in his work with people with disabilities. Jeff's stories were stories of hope, heartbreak and offered some powerful lessons for everyone including educators. His open studio, facilitation approach allowed people to discover latent gifts, stories and as a result not only offered therapy for themselves but encouragement to others. The National Film Board of Canada has been shooting a documentary on this work. I'll be excited to watch that.

I should also mention Alec Couros' talk. Alec's talk of change certainly was important for that crowd to hear and he did a nice job of taking his usual 60 minute talks down to 18. Alec remains an educational leader in both Saskatchewan and Canada and I'm proud to be associated with him and his work. 

All the talks offered me something new, something to consider beyond my fairly centric interactions. It's funny because in many schools and districts, ours included, there is a very strong resistance to paying for PD that is not directly related to a teachers' work. At one point I thought that was a fair policy. I think I have to disagree with that. In fact, I'm wondering if teachers should be encouraged to attend conferences that have seemingly nothing to do with education or at least their area of teaching. What if every teacher was required to attend something totally unrelated to the current job. Simply ask them to make a connection back to teaching. Maybe it's just me but I can't help that nearly everything I see, read or hear about usually has me wondering about the implications for teaching and learning. 

Thanks TEDx Saskatoon for a fantastic PD experience.

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