Updated: Jul 31, 2019
by Sarah Stevens, Director of Professional Learning
Mindful Moments are a piece of what sets MindFuelED apart from other conferences, and this year was no different. In fact, they were more intentional this year since our focus was on activating our inner super powers what we call learning dispositions and habits of the heart.
Mindful extraordinaire, Kim Flyr, started us off by asking a simple question, one that focused my reflection and thoughts throughout the event and still resonates with me weeks after we wrapped.
She asked us to focus our energy fully on being present. After we settled our inner voices, we were asked to think about why we were there, why we prioritized this event, and what we hoped to do or accomplish over the next two days. What would success look like for us personally?
Admittedly, these answers are seemingly obvious given this is our biggest event of the year and we had spent an entire year planning and working out the details. However, I welcome and cherish the Mindful Moments to calm me from the rushing to do’s, checklists and questions that flood in as the first day kicks off. I plan with our team of experts, pour over their outlines, handouts, and powerpoints weeks ahead. Yet when these opening moments begin, I can be still for just a quick few minutes, center on what’s important and focus on why we have brought such a stellar line-up of learning to our TCC network, and just be.
When these opening moments begin, I can be still for just a quick few minutes, center on what’s important and focus on why we have brought such a stellar line-up of learning to our TCC network, and just be.
I can usually be found in a dark corner of the room by AV taking it all in, but this year when Kim asked us to reflect, I was able to participate at a table; I remember my discussion partner stating, “I can’t wait to hear what YOU think will make this event successful.”
For me, it was easy to answer. I know these days are successful when our guests feel connected, appreciated, and fueled with passion for the upcoming year. I observe the participants physical and verbal cues. I watch for interactions that tell me they are responding positively to the learning and the speakers. I anticipate Paul running up to me telling me his perspective and watching the joy of him taking in the energy of the room. I eavesdrop on the hallway and mealtime conversations listening for clues of what they connect with the most and why.
I simply “lean in” to the people- those that make us a true Core Collaborative network.
As I reflect on our two days together, I have no doubt success was reached based on the undeniable evidence of laughter, comradery, and feedback from those in attendance. Here’s a recap of my favorite moments and a promise to make MindFuelED 2020 focused with a clear vision for personalized learning in Vail, CO!
Whether you call them habits of mind, dispositions, mind-frames or mindsets, learners were able to explore what having a “benefit mindset” was all about with Paul. We set out to motivate guests to think deeply about what makes a holistic learner and develop a plan for establishing key learning behaviors. We wanted systems to focus on something meaningful and actionable beyond academic achievement.
Participants were challenged with an EmpowerED Learner Quiz and developed an action plan collaboratively to expand key learning dispositions into their instructional focus for the upcoming school year.
Paul gave an overview of our newest learning path designed by Kara Vandas - The EmpowerED Learner Pathway. This pathway is designed to cultivate dispositional learning by infusing this practice deeply in school culture. We viewed a video through the lens of learning dispositions from Petrides and the Public School 13 and had to determine which dispositions were bubbling up from the learners.
Human Centered Design and Self Efficacy
Alan and Kara were able to add layers of understanding and critical thinking around dispositions and habits of the heart through their keynotes by revealing the habits of successful leaders and the social networks that surround their learning organizations.
Through human-centered design, Alan explored habits like vulnerability, empathy, and the ability to be more focused on humanity rather than the problems that come when working with humans. Kara dissected the anatomy of a mastery moment and challenged us to invite learners to take part and contribute to their learning.
None of us will ever look at our wallets or TSA security the same! In fact, when entering the security line we will have this inner chant of “Go, Go, Go!” thanks to Kara’s story of her own personal mastery moment.
All of this is for not if we don’t recognize the powerful message that came with Kim and Trent’s co-led message on boosting compassion for those we interact with by honoring our own dignity. We learned we should strive to master listening and empathy from the inside out. We must be aware of the types of dignity violations that occur when we rush through our interactions and collaborative conversations. Kim taught us our greatest strength can often become kryptonite if we don’t listen to our own voice and practice self-care.
On day 2 the success of the community circle conversations was felt by all. I heard from facilitators, participants, and even our camera and production crew what an honor it was to come together in like-minded roles outside, debrief the learning and share strategies for getting started.
The MindFuelED Tradition: Wisdom Walks
Once again, our tradition of the Wisdom Walks blew me away. I never know from year to year how our teams of participants will respond to the challenge to share their problem of practice and steps to success. Each year the presentation boards get more creative, informative, and just plain fun.
For five years now, we have gathered as a community of learners for MindFuelED. It often feels like a family reunion with most of our school partnerships represented. New teams year after year always let us know how welcomed they feel by everyone. ALL continue to comment on the “experience” we have put together, but what many don’t yet realize is that we simply cultivate the environment for them to share and co-create the learning.
Our secret is simple- we ensure dynamic people with a common vision for education have time and space to collaborate. We relish in the memories they make with each other and us. Our success is their success.
So how can we top the energy of MindFuelED 2019?
We are taking MindFuelED on the road in 2020 to Vail, Colorado. Our vision is to dig deep into personalized learning. We want systems to be able to customize learning for each student’s strengths, passions, and skillset.
Our goal is for our 4 tenets for deeper learning to come to life! We are going to shatter the misconception that personalized learning is an individual activity- we are creating a vision for student agency that will help students reach the peak of their learning.
The MindFuelED Challenge
Will you be present in 2020? I’ll see you at the top of the mountain for our first Mindful Moment!
What would make MindFuelED 2020 memorable for you?