We had the privilege of participating in the Ashoka U Exchange last week. Below you will find a link to some of our photos and brief summaries of the experience from our faculty members.
Dr. Carol Whelan:
The Ashoka U Exchange was the sixth one I have attended and the BEST! Working together with the Taylor Center leaders, the Tulane Teacher Certification faculty and staff and students as well as Lusher School staff and faculty to help make it a success made the Exchange even more engaging. Visiting the classes at our partner changemaker school, Lusher Charter Elementary, with folks from England, Singapore, Ireland, and the US, made me realize how fortunate we are to have such a great partners. Also, in our session, I remember a quote used by Greg Van Kirk, the Ashoka North America Empathy Leader who shared an African quote: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Together we are making empathy a priority in our program and it is making a difference in many positive ways.
I also met and was inspired by our newest Ashoka Fellow, Megan Marcus, founder and CEO of FuelEd. She spoke about the importance of relationships and teachers social and emotional competencies. She is SKYPING in to my class this week to discuss her project with my students in my Education in a Diverse Society class.
What made me happy about the conference was reconnecting with Laura White, a former student and Tulane ’12 graduate, and ab early childhood teacher at another Changemaker School, meeting her colleague VanNessa Duckett from Maury, and sharing a panel session with them and Lusher Teachers and Tulane resident, Colette Bolton, Elizabeth Sepanik, Sue Ranheim and Nicole Siegel, Holly Bell from the Louisiana Endowment for the Arts (LEH), and one of our favorite social and emotional learning experts, Amy McConnell Franklin and the Ashoka Fellow and Birthing Project Founder Kathryn Hall Truhillo.
In summary, the conference was inspiring, engaging and fun!
From Dr. Brooke Grant:
The Ashoka Conference was fantastic and left me with the feeling of wanting to share the Ashoka experience and changemaking message with everyone! A strength of this particular conference was that it was very interactive. So, instead of passively listening to speakers on a stage, the schedule afforded us the ability to comfortably interact with individuals from all over the world. In speaking and listening to others, one common thread that kept popping up was the power and importance of relationships. While such a simple message, it is all too forgotten in schools today, and I needed the reminder, myself. Effective educators are the ones that really spend their time and energy building relationships with their students. In addition, our very own Dr. Blady left me with a quote that I think is important for all of our pre-service teachers to hear—“You are already a changemaker…welcome to the party!”
From Dr. Kathy Frady:
The Ashoka Conference was an amazing experience for me for many reasons, but the elements that stick out in my mind are the two Morning Meditations. With over 700 people in attendance at the conference, I assumed the Meditation room would be filled, but on both days, only a handful of people took advantage of the opportunity to greet the day with focused peace. On Thursday, Willy Oppenheim helped us cultivate our “Warrior Mind.” Instead of violent Warriors, we learned to breathe in deep, focused breaths that filled our lungs with cleansing air and flooded our brains with needed oxygen. On Friday Ben Brubaker took us through 20 minutes of focused breathing that almost put me into a light sleep; it was so nice. I am grateful that the creators of Ashoka had the presence of mind in planning the conference to offer the opportunity to practice presence of mind.
From Laura White:
Participating in the Ashoka U Exchange at Tulane was a culmination of work that was done by many members of the TPCP community over many years. It was so exciting to share the work that we have been doing, as well as leave inspired with ideas for next steps.
From Holly Bell:
I was inspired by all the like-minded souls that always show up for the Ashoka Exchanges. It gives me hope for the future of humanity. I am really happy I got to connect with you all again, no matter how brief. You all are an inspiration as well!
From Dr. Shannon Blady:
I give this conference two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Being new to Ashoka, it was great to experience firsthand such a compassionate network of people, all there for the same cause. I was impressed by the Fellows, with organizations such as FuelEd and Thread and the events and relevant learning and teaching that take place at changemaker schools across the world. I loved the innovative ideas that came out of our session on university admissions, especially the concept of the ‘bridge year’ and the amazing opportunities there are for high school graduates to explore the world and their own interests before committing to a major.
In addition, because of my Methods course requirements, I observe my students at Little Lusher often. It was truly something special to see it through the eyes of all of the Ashoka visitors on our site visit, to see the students in collaborative groups, sharing ideas, discussing emotions, regulating their own learning. I am looking forward to continuing our work that we presented and to networking with the passionate folks that we met.