Sunday, July 21, 2013

My ADE Institute 2013 Reflection

It has been 2 days since I was in Austin for the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute and I am still mentally and physically tired. I was going to start my reflection on my 3 hour plane ride home but instead I sat and tried to absorb all the amazing things that I experienced in the past 6 days.

We all know that Apple is a world class company and their reputation is flawless.  Apple definitely did not disappoint for the ADE Institute.   From bringing in the best photographers (Bill Frakes) to some of the best app developers, to the unbelievable Duarte Team.  The professional development was top notch.  So was the never-ending amount of food.  (The extra 5 pounds I brought home can attest to the previous statement.) 

It all started last December when I began my application to become an ADE.  After encouragement, and help from my husband, my friends and my PLN.  I submitted the day before it was due.  I waited patiently for a response.  I knew that there was only a small chance that I would be chosen because Apple was only picking 50 educators in Canada.  I remember that I found out in the car on the way home from work that I had been chosen.  My husband Eric Wideen was driving and I was checking my email on my phone.  I was ecstatic! I immediately called my principal James Cowper and sent a text message to my friend Karen Lirenman who also applied to be an ADE.  I learned later that she had gotten in also.

Weeks later, I  found out that Kyle Pearce a high school teacher in my district was also chosen for the ADE program.  Kyle was the first person from the institute I made a connection with.  My husband and 2 children drove Kyle and I to the airport.  While we waited for our plane we talked about the things that we were doing in our classrooms and made connections between each other's classrooms even though our students are 7 and 8 years apart.  Hopefully we will be doing some projects together in the upcoming school year.

When we arrived in Austin, we received our rooms, I was rooming with my friend Karen.  We then got  our pictures taken for security reasons, a golf shirt, a passport, and a roll of stickers with our names on them.  The stickers and the passport were created for us to exchange stickers with everyone you met.  This was the first North American ADE Institute that involved Canada, the United States and Mexico all in attendance.  There were also ADE alumni, ADE staff and developers present.  The total number of attendees was around 400 people.  Before finishing the registration process, I received 6 workshops on various topics to take in the next couple of days.  I also had the opportunity to change the workshops if I felt there was something else I wanted to learn about more.  I went to many workshops and break out sessions during the week:  Keynote, authoring your own iBook, Final Cut Pro, digital storytelling and learning how to take quality pictures to name a few.

We officially began at 5:00 Sunday night with a Canadian Orientation Session.  We then moved into a larger room and joined the whole North American Team where we met  Rebecca Stockley.  Rebecca is a improvisation guru.  She helps people in organizations and businesses learn to enhance creativity and team work.  Whenever she was on stage we knew that we would meet someone new and have fun doing it!  I will definitely be using some of her strategies and games in my classroom this year.

The next few days were filled with team building, whole group learning sessions, breakout sessions and Social time.  The days were filled to the brim with activities.  We had breakfast from 6:30 to 7:45 A.M then learned, networked and were inspired until dinner at 7:30 P.M.

Here is an inspiring video that was shown at the institute.

I learned so much from the workshops and breakout sessions that it left my head hurting.  I tried to go to as many sessions as I could because I knew this was an opportunity to learn from the best.  There is a project due for Apple and the due date is just around the corner, however I wanted to use my time to learn absolutely everything I could before going home, and I would worry about my project later.

My most memorable memories involve the people I got to meet and collaborate with.  This institute was special.  It was special because everyone treated everyone else on an equal playing field.  There were many "rockstars" at the institute but you couldn't pick them out because everyone was treated as an equal.  Everyone was willing to share and help each other at this institute, there wasn't a hidden agenda like so many other conferences I have been to, where the "cool people" hang out together and exclude the common folk.  I felt and did go to any table during lunch and dinner and sat with complete strangers that welcomed me to the table and instantly brought me into their conversations.

Karen, Me, Kristin and Kathy
I have made friendships and connections that will last a lifetime.  I got to hang out with my #1st chat crew for 6 days!  Kristin Ziemke, Karen Lirenman, Kathy Cassidy and I have been part of each other's PLN's for a while now and were so excited to find out that we would be meeting face to face at the ADE institute.  Karen made shirts for us with our twitter handle and hashtag on them that we wore proudly on the second day of the institute.  These women I now call my friends.  They are people that I laughed with, worked hard with, accepted feedback and gave feedback to, and most of all were inspired by during this wonderful week.  And for that I will be eternally thankful to the Apple Team for bringing us together and providing us the time, tools and space to grow and learn from each other.


  1. Great blog post. You really tell the entire story arch from beginning to the Institute. It was an amazing experience and I would have to agree that the people there make the experience truly outstanding. I agree with you, there were not rock stars or divas: we were all ADEs and there to help each other grow. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with you and I look forward to collaborations in the future. Thank you for capturing your story of this amazing event.
    P.S. I totally thought you were one of the cool kids and I loved hanging out with you and your pink ladies.

  2. Great reflection. I've read about 8 today and it seems like we are all taking home very similar perspectives.

    Had a blast and look forward to working with ya this year!

  3. What a great experience! I found your blog and this reflection on Twitter. I've been thinking about applying for ADE for a couple of years, and haven't yet. Maybe next year.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Hey Girl,

    Loved hanging and meeting you. You have a wonderful energy girl! We need to connect again soon.