Lee Watanabe Crockett set the scene for the more than 250 delegates from Australia and New Zealand, at the 2017 AADES Conference, held at the Stamford Grand, Glenelg.
If you asked your class to make a list of the most urgent, critical problems in the world that needs solving, what would be on that list? Would it match the list of a group of year 4’s in ACT: Nuclear War, Waste, Social Health and High Anxiety, Homelessness, to name a few. What would you do next? How would you help translate student ideas into student action?
Lee inspired us all to create an environment where all learners are empowered to learn by exploring all of the possibilities. At the end of the day he left us with a challenge to take action to create the future we want and to start now, by taking a risk.
Teachers having the courage to step aside and allow students to struggle, constructively and productively, was the message of Professor Martin Westwell, backed up by a workshop with Kristin Vonney.
In an engaging and humorous final keynote, Michael McQueen helped us identify who our students are (and to which letter of the alphabet this “Gen” belong!), and thus understand how to do our best as teachers, so that our students can achieve their best.
Eighteen interactive and practical workshops run by teachers and leaders for teachers and leaders created new possibilities and sparked ideas for when I get back to school.
Students, past and present were integral to the conference. A dance performance by Cayla, a trumpet duet by James and Jordan and a personal and emotional acknowledgement of country by Tyeesha all highlighted the personal qualities and talents of our young distance education students.
Hannah Yates inspired us and conveyed the pain of her experiences as a student in our education system. In a powerful and moving speech she shared how her productive struggle enabled her overcome challenges and be successful as a student, as a musician, and role model for others and in life. Her story optimised the theme of the conference – connecting is learning.
While the grey, rainy (and windy) weather made venturing outside challenging, those who attended the conference dinner in the Victorian era splendour of the Mortlock Chamber, State Library, on Thursday night had a further opportunity to connect with interstate and New Zealand colleagues. AADES awards recognised outstanding achievements.
The 2017 AADES Conference provided a wonderful opportunity for distance education leaders and teachers to connect with each other. Delegates left inspired, energised and ready to take up the challenges presented by the keynote speakers and workshop leaders.