Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines

You know how you can buy orange juice concentrate? Having attending three ADE Institutes (2011 Phoenix, 2013 Austin, 2014 La Jolla) I can’t think of any other times in my life where I live in what I consider concentrate form: we spend a week with hundreds of other people eating, talking and traveling together. There’s little time for sleep! I’d hate to miss out on something cool (aka FOMO). It’s not easy to describe to others who haven’t experienced an Institute. I find that when I do try, I end up crying. Crying because I miss the constant laughing, the camaraderie of new-found friends, and the comfort of old friends that are family. There’s a hole in my heart when I have to say goodbye. No joke, it takes me a couple of weeks to recover. 

The week together proved that spending time cultivating and celebrating relationships is invaluable. (Side note: How can we expect kids to learn together if we don’t let them come together as people first?) As co-learners we explored new landscapes, uncovered histories and investigated mysteries like scientists might.  While studying languages is more my thing, it was good to be pushed beyond my comfort level, namely by being a citizen scientist and trying to sketch my learning.

A long way to go.

A long way to go.

Other learning take-aways for the week, in no particular order:

  1. While Drew Berry was specifically talking about science at the time, it holds true for any content: “Don’t dumb it down.” When I hear that classes aren’t “rigorous” enough, it may be because they’ve been dumbed down. Edit the tasks, not the content.
  2. Douglas Kiang spoke about coding in a way that opened my eyes to its secret power (I knew it was powerful but making it people-centered spoke to me): “What matters most is connecting with others.” 
  3. Process time is really important. We need to be sure to build this in for our students (of all ages).
  4. There is a difference between storytelling and lecturing. 
  5. Be present. I have to work hard on being present, in general. I conscientiously focused on the experience last week mostly because I didn’t want it to end and also I wanted it lodged in my memory. I tried to soak in the landscapes I saw with my eyes as open as possible and listen as intently as I could. It didn’t slow down the time, but I have clear memories of the sights and sounds of the week. 
  6. Jen and I had a lovely conversation with Rebecca Stockley the morning we were flying out. The term “witness” came up as we talked about the experience of the Institute and trying to take it all in, being present and remembering it all. That’s the beauty of the shared experience–we bear witness to the good and the bad and take that with us. 
  7. Related, Jen and I talked a lot after the Institute about the love and respect that was palpable in the ADE ballroom and around the campus. Last Friday afternoon when Rebecca asked us to close our eyes and think about being an ADE, I suddenly found the energy in the room emotionally overwhelming and had a little meltdown during the celebration, bordering full-on ugly cry. I love that ADE Institutes provide a safe place where I can be filter-free and goofy for a whole week with people I love and respect. 

 

Scripps Beach

Scripps Beach