Monday, October 14, 2013

Flying home from Ulearn on Sunday afternoon…

Finally time to begin to reflect on the MAGIC of the week.  Leaving Dunedin at 5.45am last Monday to fly to Hamilton wondering what was in store from the inside of Ulearn as a ‘yellow lanyard wearer’. Jane and I met up with Kathe and Michael at Wellington then headed off to Hamilton.  Great flights and met by the wonderful Jill Hammond who took Kathe and I for a coffee at Casalinga café.  Sitting in the sun in Hamilton, the MAGIC began. 
One real highlight in my week was the wonderful Anna Gerrittson picking me up and taking me to visit her class.  I really appreciated this opportunity and loved seeing the journey with innovative learning spaces, shared classroom space, and exciting learning opportunities for a gorgeous new entrant class.  Thanks so much for involving me in your journey Anna.  Keeping in touch online is great but face-to-face is the real MAGIC!

Back to catch up with the CORE team and off we went for set-up at Southwell School.  What an incredible school.  We set up all the classes and put up signs ready for Ulearn mobile on the Tuesday.  I am finishing the week presenting at Southwell so I have the role of photographing the classes so we can put them back together at the end of the week.  Off to café for lunch, then to Peachgrove Intermediate to set up for ATANZ.  This is the first year with three conferences rolled into one and a wonderful opportunity to have ATANZ involved. 
Back to the Claudelands event centre for the pure MAGIC of envelope stuffing.  I really am in awe of the organization that goes on behind the scenes.  This is also a very special time to get to know the team and have a whole lot of fun anticipating the week ahead.  After that it was the fun of packing up the presenter’s gift bags… Fun, and of course a little bit of competition packing and stacking.  I checked out the rest of the venue.  As the teams were packing up from the Home and Garden show, it is hard to envisage this venue being ready for 1500 educators…
Out for dinner to Ginger Thai and a lot of laughs and good times with an incredible team.  Then it was time to check into our motel for the week.  Off to bed eagerly anticipating Ulearn Mobile tomorrow… 

Up early uber excited for a MAGICal day and a MAGICal day it was indeed.  What a moment as Luana bestowed upon me my first yellow lanyard…. My first role of the day was registration at Southwell for the Ulearn Mobile day!  What a privilege.  I absolutely loved meeting and greeting new friends and old friends.  I just loved the incredible BUZZ of educators gathering together reconnecting.  The morning flew by and after a scrumptious lunch in the stunning old wordly dining room it was off to the library for our BYOD unconference panel session

What a wonderful session.  The panel shared, broke for questions, then broke into groups to meet the needs of the participants.  A highlight for me was Derek's sharing around learning centre as opposed to learning centred!  I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations around the WHY of BYOD and the transformative potential of devices. 

All too soon the session was over and we headed back to Claudelands for the Powhiri.  No matter how many Powhiri I am involved in I am always moved to tears by the privilege of a truly unique NZ celebration and welcome. I am increasingly able to catch words and phrases that I understand and I renew my commitment to learn more reo.

What a wonderful welcome for Ken Shelton, the LA keynote and what a wonderful moment as he thanked the group for the welcome and talked of breaking down cultural barriers.

From the powhiri we shared kai then it was off to the Ulearn Showcase.  What a wonderful opportunity.  We were inspired by Stephen Knightly, Nat Torkington, Lyn Silcock, Megan Iemma, and Claire Amos.  Then it was up to Fiona and I to talk in hash tags to introduce #Ulearn Unconference, #Breakout 5, #Arena Lounge, #1.45, #Thursday, followed by Emma Winder introducing her Educafe and Karen Melhuish highlighting the social media opportunities for the week. And the showcase was hosted by the amazing John Fenaughty and Chrissie Butler, who really focused us on the 'all that glitters' gala dress up potential...

Out of there and off to Mexico for the e-fellows dinner.  What a wonderful opportunity for us to realize the dream that the fellowship is forever.  We were able to connect with e-fellows across the years and eagerly anticipate the announcing of e-fellows for 2014 on Thursday morning.

Back to the motel to crash…

Wednesday morning alarm rang out all too soon and off we headed for the registration desk at the Claudelands centre.  The first educator came through the door at 7.22am – impressive!  A stunning bunch of hosts from Diocesan Girl’s school welcomed the delegates and I had the pleasure of meeting and greeting and supporting. 

The welcoming keynote was Ken Shelton who really instilled in us the need for fun and connecting in our learning journey.
Next stop – Social Media Station where I would spend a lot of the week, welcoming, supporting, filming, editing and tweeting.  Breakout two I presented in the Arena lounge, my first e-literacy workshop.  The long thin room was packed and it was incredibly hard for the people to see or hear me from half way back.  All too soon the session was over. 

The afternoon in the social media centre, learning from Catriona and Renee the MAGIC of vox-pop movies capturing snapshots of the Ulearn experience from the delegates perspective.

The day drew to a close for the delegates with the reception in the Trade Exhibition Arena.  What a wonderful opportunity to meet, connect, share, chat, wine and nibble, all the while checking out the latest and greatest in the way of equipment, resources and support for education.  Off again to an early sitting at the Mexico for the twitter dinner.  What a laugh… off all the venues in Hamilton, here we are two nights in a row at the same place.  Great to connect and catchup with fellow tweets. 

Thursday morning dawned with the opening keynote by MarkPesce.  As he journeyed through the history of technology he arrived at the point of hyper connectivity, a time where learners no nothing other than connectedness and collaboration.  Our role as educators must be to model and nurture the relationships our learners have both face to face and online as they connect.

My time of creating vox-pops saw me working alongside the incredibly supportive Catriona and Renee again.  What an awesome opportunity to learn alongside others in a team where there is no ego.  We are all about growing and sharing and collaborating to build the knowledge and capacity of the team.

During morning tea and lunch we filmed and I was able to edit one voxpop in the gap.  An early lunch, a quick catch up with Fiona Grant, then it was off to the Arena Lounge for our Ulearn unconference session.  What a wonderful session this was.  I first met Fiona in July 2011 at educamp Tai tokerau and I am even more in awe of her now.  I loved the opportunity to work with her, learn from her and have fun with her as we put together our session and a resource to support others to run future educamps.  A real highlight was the speed geeking session, which drew Becky up from below to see what all the chatter was about!  Speed geeking is an awesome way to really connect and share a snapshot in a short space of time….

Hot on the heels of our unconference session was  Emma Winder’s educafe session.  I loved the opportunity to experience this session and really realize the power of world café to take a discussion deeper and further.  I had the pleasure of being the table host and relished the opportunity to facilitate our table learning journey.  I have experimented with world café in class for maths and writing motivation and also used it to kick off educampdunners.  I thoroughly recommend this approach to a shared learning journey.   

Back to the motel for a quick change and off to “all that glitters” gala dinner.  WOW, what a stunning site.  There really is something about putting on a costume that brings out the fun side.  The place is a riot of glitter and bling and laughter… Inside the arena, that has been transformed into a stunning conference dinner setting.  The meal was scrumptious, the band superb.  Dancing our way through the night celebrating.  Right across the team that is CORE were smiles, giggles, glitter, dancing, good times.  What an incredible privilege to be part of this team.  Home before midnight I think I was almost asleep before my head hit the pillow. 

Friday morning and I woke before the alarm.  Down to the Claudelands Event Centre by 7.45 and upstairs for a quiet space to re-focus and re-work my repeat e-literacy session.  Taking onboard the challenges and provocation from the keynotes I am starting with a chance to really focus on the challenges and think about how these will impact on literacy learning immediately.  I am such a gregarious social butterfly that I was surprised how much I enjoyed one hour of me time working away on my own. 

Straight into the Social Media Desk I welcomed newbies to twitter, chatted and connected with new and old friends alike.  A scrumptious brunch and it was time for the bus to Southwell for my fourth and final presentation in the dining room.  What a stunning room for a session.  The room rapidly filled and a call went out for more chairs.  I started the session with an opportunity for educators to gather in year level groups to reflect on the challenges issued so far at Ulearn and the opportunities to impact on learning and learners.  Into the session and I was immediately in awe of the collaboration, sharing and wealth of wisdom in the room.  Google Presentation continues to challenge us for collaborative editing on iPads but this group rapidly delegated to those with laptops and our resource grew.  I ABSOLUTELY  loved this session!  What a privilege to work with such a motivated, committed group of educators on a Friday morning after the conference dinner… As the delegates rushed of to bus back to Claudelands for the closing keynote, Greg and Jill and I returned the rooms at Southwell to their previous state.  Off back to Claudelands we were privileged to journey with Dame Cath Salmond.

All to soon the event centre started to empty… All too soon the educators raced to catch flights, to drive back to Auckland… Almost hugged out, only the CORE team remained.  As we dismantled and packed up I quietly reflected on the privilege of being a part of Ulearn13 from setup to pack down.  What a TEAM.  I am totally in awe of Becky and Luana.  They are consomate professional who go above and beyond the call of duty repeatedly, always going the extra mile to make sure everything is done for everyone.  I was incredibly privileged to work with and get to know Sherry and Gweeny as they are retiring from the Ulearn event.  I loved my time with the Social Media Team, the events team, the technical support team, in fact I loved everything about the opportunity to a part of the inside of Ulearn.  I was privileged to room with the wonderful Chrissie.  Thank you awesome lady, for a truly wonderful week. 
 A long time ago I said “when I grow up I want to wear the yellow lanyard”.  I have worn it and am in awe of the privilege.  Yes, we work hard, we play hard, we are committed to an organization that is all about growing everyone, nurturing everyone, inspiring everyone. 

This is a very personal reflection on my journey.  As the days and weeks go by, I anticipate a wealth of chatter as we share our journey.  The twitisphere continues to grow and share the learning.  The challenge is to take away and use any opportunity to transform outcomes for our learners. 
·      What will we do to make a difference? 
·      What will I try during term four? 
·      How will I make sure I am allowing my learners to create?
·      Who will I keep in contact with?
·      How will I use my PLN to harness my ecosystems?
·      What will I do to reflect on and grow my practice?


  1. You are a credit to the Yellow Lanyard Gladys! You grow, nurture and inspire me each and every day. :-)

    1. Oh Helen, MAGIC! Was seriously cool to catch up with you last week. Just not enough time... What a privilege to wear the Yellow Lanyard! Catch up real soon, I hope! L@S?