NMSA Day One Reflection

My first day at the National Middle School Association conference has been fantastic and extremely busy!  I attended two sessions, a keynote, and had two great work sessions with the MSP2 folks!

First thing, and one of the most amazing things was the number of folks I met for the first time in real life today:

  • Mary Henton
  • Bill Ivey
  • Rebecca Lawson
  • Susie Highley
  • Shawn McGirr
  • Troy Patterson
  • Eric Biederbeck
  • Tom Jenkins
  • Karolee Smiley
  • Kim Lightle
  • Jessica Fries-Gaither
  • Ross Burkhardt

I’m almost certain there were many others, but these were the primary folks I ran into throughout the day.  It was wonderful to put real faces and stories with some of these folks who I had only interacted with online in the past.  It was a special treat for me to meet Ross, who I consider one of my educational forefathers.  Ross worked with Chris Cummo at Chris’ first school, taught him many things, and in turn Chris was my cooperating teacher for student teaching 6 years ago.  Pretty amazing moment to make that connection!


The sheer number of sessions available at NMSA09 is staggering!  The program book is like a phone book, with tons of things available at each concurrent session time.  The sessions I attended today were fast paced and informative.  My first session was supposed to be about Science lessons using Understanding By Design but when I arrived the session was already full.  I quickly browsed through the book and found The Digital Facelift as an alternate session.

The Digital Facelift session started off on a positive note with an excellent analogy about the Digital Tattoo.  That one moment that you may regret the  next day but is very hard to remove later.  However, the focus of the session continued to be primarily about “scrubbing” your online image and removing the offending pieces of your Digital Footprint.  I would have preferred a focus on controlling the quality of your Footprint up front.  The final 10 minutes of the session did get to the idea that the information you Supply about yourself is the key to having a positive online image.  For me, and the presenter even mentioned this, that is the overall key to building an online presence.  For only the last 10 minutes to be spent on that aspect of Digital Identity was a shame.  This came after the presenter made the statement that while scrubbing you should remove any image that identifies you from the Internet.  Even going as far as saying you should remove albums that are uploaded to Shutterfly or Snapfish for printing purposes.  If someone is going that far out of their way to find images of you to sabotage, aren’t they going to find them no matter what? I’m still having a hard time stomaching that discussion.

My second session was a whirlwind tour of information about building positive relationships and questioning techniques.  The two topics seemed to form a bit of a disjointed presentation because while I was still trying to process the Relationships piece, I suddenly realized we had shifted topics entirely.  Mark McLeod made excellent points in both parts of the session, but a singular focus would have worked better for me.  Each part of his presentation could have easily stood on its own.  The overriding theme of the Relationships piece was that of students’ Emotional Bank Accounts.  In order to make a withdrawal you must first make enough deposits so that the account doesn’t get closed.  This metaphor was extended throughout the session, and was extremely powerful. Overall this session was as much a life lesson, as an educational one.


Daniel Pink’s keynote was a composite of information from “A Whole New Mind” and from his TED Talk on Motivation.  In fact, between the two, I felt like I had heard about 90% of the keynote already.  Of course, that did not make any of the information any less powerful, it just made it a bit of a rehash.  From the responses of the crowd, I could tell many had not read Pink’s book before and some may not have even been familiar with his ideas.  Overall the focus of the session was about 75% AWNM and the final portion was about Motivation and rewards.  Glad to know this information was taken in by a large group of folks and perhaps many more will examine the role of the Right Brain in their classrooms.

Overall, a successful first day. I’m looking forward to the sessions tomorrow and will continue to pound out blog post after blog post. Hope you can feel like you’re here without being here!


One Response

  1. OK Todd, I am exhausted just trying to read Day 1. I will try to “digest” it all later so at least I may have a little idea of what you are talking about next week. Continue to enjoy the trip.

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