Better Together- #DENSI2017

This time one week ago I was completing my first evening of Discovery Education’s Principal Summit- DENSI 2017 in San Diego, California.  It is hard to believe an entire week has passed.  As an aside, I spent Thursday (of last week) flying from one end of the country to the other with a couple of local colleagues who were also selected to attend this professional learning opportunity.  We hit the ground running, meeting a room full of innovative administrators from around the country and Canada.  We attended great session after great session, collaborating with and learning from outstanding administrators until Sunday afternoon when we caught our flight back home.  We arrived home Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. and were back at work at 7:00 a.m. the next day.  This week (like most) has been incredibly busy, and now exactly one week later I have finally come to a point of reflection.  What’s important here?  … Coming to a point of reflection.  It is so easy to get busy and leave the energy, enthusiasm, and learning behind.  I am not your typical note-taking type, but throughout the conference I highlighted take-aways through tweets and jotting notes in an app on my phone.  In an effort to reinforce my learning and share with others, I’ve decided to create a “short list” of the quotes, tools, and thoughts that really stood out to me during this collaborative learning opportunity.

Quotes, Ideas, & Thoughts:

@DrBillZiegler- “Future Focused Leaders” (Check out his book!) Feedback is important- Not only from your faculty, but also (and especially) from your students!

@PostleBrown- “If your staff didn’t have to attend your professional development (staff meeting, etc.) would they be there?”  Rachael presented engaging ways to lead professional development in your school.  I like to think I am “innovative”, but Rachael helped me realize how many engaging options are out there to move our schools forward.  She shared gamification tools to enhance professional learning, and her session was amazing!

@PrincipalStager- One of our first learning experiences was from Theresa who talked about the importance of connectedness.  We are “better together”.  Find ways to grow your PLN (professional learning network).  The greatest way I have found to grow my PLN is through twitter.  You can connect with others from all over the world!  This DENSI experience was also particularly amazing because we were a fairly small group of principals with diverse backgrounds.  It is amazing how much you can learn when you come together with others who have had different experiences than you.

@rockourworld- We had a powerful session about focusing on our strengths.  We took the Gallup “Strengths Finder” assessment to learn about our top five strengths.  It is so true that in the field of education we very often focus on weaknesses and how to improve our (school’s, student’s, etc.) weaknesses.  I learned you can much more effectively grow your strengths than your weaknesses.  This was enlightening for me, because I had never really considered this before.

@Ryan_Imbriale- DO NEW THINGS.  “Innovation matters.”  — His message was affirming and inspiring…. and reminded me of my blog!

Tools/Resources I want to Remember and Explore:

Storify, Lewo- Jenga: Can be used for team-building and also to teach empathy by limiting people by removing a “strength” (play with one hand, play blindfolded, etc.), 360 camera and Thinglink, DENtrend Report- latest education articles found on @DiscoveryEd website, Rocketbook Wave, Coding: CoSpaces, Alexa- Treehouse, Universal Clip-On 60x Microscope, Bloxels- Video Game Creating, Discovery Ed Kindness Resources & STEM resources, Creating mini green screens out of pizza boxes….


During this conference I was able to sit and talk with other principals from California, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Canada, Louisiana …. I’m sure I have forgotten places.  We talked, laughed, and shared stories, tools and resources.  I feel I was blessed to sit among the “best of the best” at this conference.  My tweet to “wrap up” this event was: “Awesome learning.  Awesome people and connections.  Awesome city.  Thanks @DiscoveryEd.  My first #DENSI2017 experience was incredible.”

My experience was indeed incredible.  As I reflect on my week of learning, I am reminded of the power of collaboration.  It is difficult to grow if you are on an island all alone.  We are so much better together.  I am thankful for the opportunity to connect with the other amazing principals at this conference, and I look forward to putting my learning into action for the betterment of my students.  While this post includes only a “short list” of the many great ideas, tools, and thoughts presented at this conference, I hope it serves as a reminder of this incredible experience.




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