Nearpod hosted our 2nd annual PioNear Summit January 14th and 15th in Austin, TX. It was a milestone event for our company as we gathered nearly 100 PioNears together from around the world for a weekend of community building, professional development, and new product launches. The event made it clear that putting teachers first and building a community of global educators is of utmost importance to Nearpod’s success. Check out the highlight video of the PioNear summit below as well as some reflections from our PNs themselves.
Before the event started people coordinated rideshares and airport meet-ups to get to the hotel. Despite never meeting in person, the community was strengthening before the event even began. We all came as strangers, but wanted to make sure no one felt that way.
During breaks and meals, I constantly heard chatter about “What do you do? How do you do it? What tools do you use? Will you share with me?” Of course there were social conversations because everyone was making genuine connections, but the majority of the weekend was spent discussing professional goals and our shared passion for helping other educators and students.
The PioNears are an amazing group of educators who spent a good portion of the weekend working together in teams. Many of the activities were very fun and easily replicated in classrooms. Visit PioNear Amy Roediger’s blog A Lever and a Place to Stand to learn 8 activities for spicing up your next lesson, professional development, training, or workshop.
Focus on Professional Development and SEL
So many interactive, hands-on, out of the seat, avant-garde activities happening that it was a challenge to write this blog during the Summit before it ended up as old news. To have a tech company celebrate educators and show them that they are the most important piece of their company is so refreshing. It was immediately clear that all the attendees are completely comfortable and cognizant that the SEL influences education in ways that affect children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. I’m reminded of a quote from Nobel Laureate, James Heckman, the greatest returns on education investments are “from nurturing children’s non-cognitive skills, giving them social, emotional and behavioral benefits that lead to success later in life…”
A Global Community
The best part of the conference was the collegiality in the group, connecting with some amazing people and the informal conversations around learning. Participants came not only from North America, but the Netherlands, Denmark, Serbia and the UK. It was a wonderful weekend of community building and hearing about the exciting developments happening in the upcoming year that continue to help teachers create engaging and rich learning environments with and for their students.
Start with Why
Like Simon Sinek says, “Start with the why.” Nearpod knows its “why,” so they brought educators together from all over the world to learn, grow, and connect with each other. It knows that educators are at the heart of shifting the education paradigm and that its product can help make that shift happen.
What the summit really accomplished was the strengthening of a community of educators who work all over the world to advance digital pedagogy for student improvement. Informal conversations, an un-conference, and “Spark” sessions throughout the weekend allowed educators to connect through authentic discourse, and to share ideas and best practices.
We are proud of the work that the PioNear community is doing in classrooms and schools around the world, and it was an incredible experience to bring everyone together to make the community even stronger. We plan to grow the community even more in 2017 so if you’re interested in becoming a PioNear, we encourage you to learn more and apply at https://nearpod.com/pionears.