What I learned from three days at Discovery’s DENSI 2015 Conference

Last week I had an education adventure.  Pretty different from the regular educational conference that I attend, the DENSI 2015 Principals Summit was ambitious in its design and very creative in its execution.

For me, the most important thing Discovery worked very hard on was to develop a community of administrators.  This is so unique.  No one seems to consider how isolating the job of a principal is and how important it is for us to have time together to learn from each other and build connections.  Discovery facilitated that and that is not an easy thing to do.  

Without pressuring us too much, they gave us the opportunity to talk to each other and strike up new relationships.  For me this is huge.  My last conversation with another admin just as I got ready to return to Canada was a good indication of the spirit of DENSI.  She simply said, ‘I really enjoyed having you here, thanks.’  Something very simple, but an affirmation from someone I didn’t know just three days earlier and a really positive affirmation that doesn’t happen all that often in our home districts.  

I think we all learned that it sometimes easier to be appreciated when you are with a group of strangers that you might feel in your own district.

There is no question that Discovery wants you to take advantage of their services, but there is nothing wrong with that.  They are actually interested in how they can offer better digital content – something that we are hungry for in our schools right now.  They talked a lot about digital transformation and as we move in this direction, we really need them as our partners, just like we need Google, Apple and other leaders in educational technology.

It was mentioned briefly at the conference, but it something that is becoming increasingly true and very important for administrators.  If we want to really be innovative for our kids, we need to make more alliances with businesses and not wait for our districts to take the lead.  Our needs are too great and the resources at the district level have been stretched too far.  

Rather than complain about this situation, I say – accept it and move on.  

I want Discovery Ed as a partner with my school, just like I want Google and a whole host of private funders and associations so that we can truly offer an enriched program for our kids.  This alliance with businesses will allow us to create in ways we have never imagined before.

That’s what I learned, and I have been energized by the experience.  Now, all we need is to see much more of Discovery here in Canada – you have a lot to offer us, but you need to spend much more time with us to create the energy that exists right now in the States.

Thanks again Discovery, the best three days of learning I have had in a really long time.

 

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