Thoughts on a conference.

I haven’t attended the Learning Forward conference since 2014 when I presented with the team behind Professional Designs for Professional Learning 3rd edition. I contributed a chapter about professional learning through social media. What fascinating times those were!

It is difficult to determine which conference sessions will be worth your time when you’re reviewing a catalog of offerings. I’ve learned to look closely at the presenters’ organizations. Sponsored sessions were underwhelming, at best. Sessions run by companies who ultimately want to sell you something should have their own track, even when they present in partnerships with schools and educators in the classroom. What value are you bringing to the people in the room?

I want to say I’m leaving the conference with a wealth of new resources and ideas to use in our professional learning design endeavors, but that does not appear to be the case.

Where are you learning right now? What spaces bring you joy?

Learn with OPL this summer and beyond!

This blog has certainly taken a back seat in the grand scheme of working and learning, but I wanted to share a few things we’ve been working on in the Office of Professional Learning. If you’re a Berks County educator or nearby in PA, please consider joining us!

STEELS Professional Learning Catalog 23-24

Pennsylvania’s new STEELS standards are here, and it’s time to learn more about science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts! We are offering sessions all about phenomena-based, three-dimensional teaching and learning, as well as curriculum sessions targeted for both elementary and secondary levels. Hope you can join us!

2023-24 STEELS Professional Learning BCIU 14 by Lyn Hilt

FLEX Professional Learning on Teachable

FLEX header on Teachable website

We now offer enrollment in 35+ asynchronous courses for educators, and we provide Act 48 hours for Pennsylvania educators who complete all required tasks. Various content areas are represented, and time required to complete a learning module ranges from 1-6 hours. No live meetings, work at your own pace, at times that best fit your schedule. Sign up for a free Teachable account (or sign in with your current account) to enroll in our FLEX offerings! If you have suggestions for courses you’d like to see offered, comment below or email

Berks STEM Connection

Berks STEM Connection logo

Stay informed about what’s happening with the Berks STEM Connection Ecosystem! Join our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletters. We host STEM network meetings each year and regularly share information from our STEM partners in business and non-profit organizations.

You can also follow @BerksSTEM on Twitter!

Don’t forget, you can also use keywords to search through our BCIU Frontline catalog to find additional workshops that interest you.

We’re looking forward to learning with you this year!

When you remember you have a blog

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

I last blogged February 9, 2021 – so here we are, not quite a full year later. Just a short and sweet entry to say hello.

I get emails like this:

and feel attacked, like, I know I have a blog and thank you for caring about it because I obviously don’t and then life just moves on to the next.

I struggle now, sharing things here. Nothing seems important enough. Everyone is trying to keep it together for themselves, their families, students, and friends. Blogging used to be a priority in every week and then month, at least, in my life. I was doing a lot of reading and learning and reflecting. I don’t think I stopped learning, and I definitely reflect – inwardly, not willing necessarily to put it out in this space or anywhere else, for that matter.

It’s also like super cold outside all of the time which probably definitely impacts my ability to string together coherent sentences.

The other day on Twitter, Bud Hunt who’s a super fantastic thinker mentioned he was “starting fresh” on on a feed reader (A FEED READER, how do I log into Feedly again? I wondered) and asked, Who should I be reading?

If you think of someone, reply to Bud’s tweet and then also comment below with your suggestions because I used to love dialoguing in blog comment threads.

That was the best.

What have we learned, and what will we now do differently?

clip from Scott's blog

I commented on a blog post! Felt like 2010 all over again.

Scott McLeod’s recent post, Why most schools won’t reinvent themselves after a pandemicgarnered some quality chatter in the comments thread. Be sure to check it out.

Here’s my response:

“I’m not asking you to change, I’m asking you to learn.” -Missy Emler

What school leaders could do, practically, and in a non-threatening manner, is answer a bunch of these questions with their constituents:

1. What did the pandemic force us to change?
2. Was it an effective change and why?
3. How will this change influence our thinking moving forward?
4. What did we learn that we can apply to our systems in post-pandemic times? And why should we bother?
5. Did the shifts made during the pandemic create more meaningful learning experiences for any groups of our students? If so, how do we continue?
6. Did the shifts made during the pandemic harm any groups of our students? If so, how do we undo this harm and proceed differently?
7. What levels of support are necessary to help invested teachers continue to lead forward?
8. What levels of support are needed for constituent groups to thrive in the spaces our community has designed for learning?
9. Did our pandemic shifts bring about a certain level of clarity about learning that we didn’t before understand? And can we now articulate our beliefs about powerful learning in a way that can guide our decisions moving forward?

10. PS. I miss blog post comments threads! Maybe I should blog more 😉

We’re in an interesting space, yes? Nearly a full year into school shutdowns, what have we learned? What will we take with us moving forward? What, if anything, will we do differently?

How has your teaching and learning changed over the last year? What have you seen in your classrooms, schools, and families that has made an impact on how you will teach or lead in the months and years ahead?

So many questions right now, and no single right answers. I think the important thing is that we keep reflecting, keep questioning, and keep attempting to create environments where all learners can flourish.

Supporting professional learning at a distance

Summer Series website screenshot

The past few months have been a blur for us all. In the world of professional learning, we’ve had to adjust our plans for in-person educator support and innovate as best we can. The Covid-19 forced school closures could not be a time for our team to sit idle and wonder “What in the world do we do now?” but rather provide teachers and admin continued opportunities to strengthen their understandings and given them hands-on opportunities for learning in a variety of content areas and topics that would help them best serve kids in distance learning environments.

The pushback against teachers and schools and how instruction was severely lacking in the spring is truly unwarranted. Are there teachers who likely mailed it in and just did the bare minimum to get through until the end of the school year? Sure. And for their students, I feel a great deal of sorrow. But those teachers existed pre-Covid and they’ll continue to exist in the future. However for the majority of teachers dedicated to their craft, they went into “learners first” mode and dedicated their time to design meaningful learning experiences for kids in virtual environments.

Our department decided to share as much as we could with our county educators during this time. Was our effort perfect? No. But tens of thousands of YouTube views later and countless thank yous and “this was invaluable” emails and feedback, we feel good about it. We all honed our own instructional delivery skills and learned more about facilitating quality professional learning in digital environments. Sometimes we really nailed it, and sometimes we fell flat. Our Core Connections to Virtual Learning website has over 100 on-demand learning opportunities that we originally shared in live events during the early weeks of school closures. We encouraged teachers from the county to share their own sessions with colleagues as well. Core Connections is the name of our teacher-led conference, typically held face-to-face in June, and we wanted to honor the spirit of that event with our offerings!

Core Connections website screenshot

Knowing that the wealth of on demand offerings might be intimidating to some looking for a more cohesive learning experience, we decided to design learning “series” that bundled together workshops, assessment connections, SEL explorations, and choice board project activities in our Summer Learning Series offerings. While we do still offer live events in July and August, we know these months are difficult to get live attendance from educators. The series have been embraced by hundreds of teachers in the county who have worked through series, obtained completion certificates, and put their learning in action by creating and submitting project work they can use in their classrooms this fall. Summer Series website screenshot

Next steps? The Core Connections videos and Summer Series videos will be available through Labor Day, at which point we’ll transition to more targeted professional development bundles for teams, schools, and districts who are hoping to support their teachers with whatever the fall holds. Right now some of our districts are beginning full virtual for the first marking period; others are using a blended approach where students report for 2-3 days of the week in person and still others are opening full time, face-to-face, for all students. Some schools have not yet decided what they’re doing.

One of our challenges as a county support team is being able to meet the needs of all of our schools. Every teachers’ needs vary so greatly. We hope we can continue to design personal learning experiences for our teachers and reach as many educators as possible. We’re here to support you! If you’re reading this and you’re an educator from Berks County, be sure to reach out to if you have any requests for learning opportunities!

PS. For those of you interested in the tools we used to make this happen… some apps & services we couldn’t live without: Google Slides, Google Sites, Canva, Screencastify, iMovie, YouTube, and Zoom.

In the midst of it all

I’ve been meaning to come to this space for quite some time. I did, after all, commit to #20in20 – twenty posts to my blog this year. Well, we’re 106 days in. (Could be 107 by the time I click publish) and I’ve managed to post just once.

In the midst of it all, of starting a new job, acclimating to life working in an office and in schools during the week and juggling children’s schedules and trying to find me time (laugh-a-ble), I just didn’t find time to write.

I wanted to, though.

Things were going really well. Enjoying my new role immensely. My OPDC team at BCIU is amazing. I found myself involved in some truly meaningful projects, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to serve our county’s schools.

In the midst of enjoying this new adventure, the pandemic arrived.

And the last several weeks have been a blur. I’m not a classroom teacher, so I can’t begin to empathize. But I am spending most of my time each day building digital content and sharing live with teachers in our county because our job continues to be to provide professional development and support to the teachers in our county. I have comfort in this space, and for that I am grateful, while certainly other members of leadership teams and teachers do not.

In the midst of it all, when I stop to breathe and reflect, the guilt comes in. My kids are 4 and 7. They have online learning tasks of their own to complete, and I have very little time to sit with them and make sure it’s happening. We’re finding other opportunities to learn and play together. And the house is a mess and I don’t pay attention to the dogs and will I ever consistently exercise and get out of this desk chair and will the amount of time my kids spend on iPads make their brains implode? Probably not, but in the midst of it all, that’s what I worry about.

My worries are nothing compared to the worries of families who don’t have incomes, or food to eat, or shelter, or access to health services. I get that. We’re designing learning opportunities for teachers knowing not all of their students have internet access, or devices, or time, or space, or support, or the safety, to learn from home.

We’re just continuing to do what we do because it’s what we need to do. And we’re doing our best, in the midst of it all.

I hope you’re well, too. And remember how much you mean to all the people around you, and that your best is always good enough.


PS. It’s now day 121. 15 days to finish and click publish. Sigh.


20 in 20.

This is me, blogging.

This is me, sharing one of my learning and leadership goals transparently, in a space I often think of fondly, yet rarely commit time to visit.

I’m going to post 20 blog entries in 2020.


“We miss your voice,” a colleague told me earlier this year. Someone who has known me in this space – well, not this space – but something vaguely similar, from the earliest days of edublogging and Tweeting circa 2009.

So I’ve started a new position as a Program Administrator at Berks County Intermediate Unit. In Pennsylvania, schools and communities are supported by regional service agencies called IU, and I’ve now joined a committed team of educational leaders support school districts, teachers, and students in our county. I help facilitate learning around STEM, gifted education, and I spend time with the middle school principals’ network. And whatever else arises as a need!

I love it.

It’s a good fit for me. I love professional learning. I enjoy working with teachers.

I love learning. And I’m doing a lot of it, every day.

Currently we’re doing a bit of grant writing and supporting schools as they work to integrate STEM and CS into their students’ learning experiences.

What are you learning about STEM and CS that might interest me or my teachers? Do you know the Google’s Director of STEM Education Strategy, Kamau Bobb? Be sure to say hi and share your thoughts in the comments below.



Learnings Lately.

“Busy is the new default status.”

Boo. 👻

Apologies to my loyal little blog, it’s been awhile, but you’re always here when I need you! #longlivetheblog

What have you been learning lately? Wanted to share a few tidbits from my consulting adventures and work with Modern Learners Community.

I had one of the most exciting leading and learning experiences in my career thus far when I spent a few days at the International Learning Event in Perugia, Italy. It was such a privilege to share about digital age leadership, personal learning networks, and documentation of learning with very passionate teachers! It was also a privilege to spend time at the ITIS Alessandro Volta school and witness so many innovations in learning, and of course at last meet face-to-face the gracious and talented Silvia Mazzoni.

In the land of Modern Learners, we recently ran a series of Crowdcast events introducing our latest Modern Learners Courses – from assessment to the principles of modern learning and inquiry leadership, check out our offerings and see if they’d be a good fit to support your learning. (They are perfect for teams, too!) And, don’t forget, Modern Learners Community is a FREE, dynamic online learning space where we engage in dialogue and share resources around teaching, learning, and leadership. Join us!

In Google for Education world, I’ve been learning more about CS First as well as the Applied Digital Skills curriculum. If you’re in need of support implementing the free Applied Digital Skills curriculum in your schools, check out this offering from Kiker Learning.

I’ve also enrolled in CMU’s free CS Academy and have a few gold stars under my belt. Check out this overview to learn more!

The Garden State Summit is being held on January 13, 2020 – Register today!

And, finally, iPDX is returning for its 20th year, and it remains one of my favoritest, most powerful learning gatherings of all time. 😉 You can submit your interest to attend here! 

What about you? What have you been learning? Sharing? Wondering?

Summer/Fall 2019 learning opportunities coming your way!

We’ve been busy at Modern Learners, and in my role as Courses Director (it’s super official), I’ve been working with some really talented educators to create learning experiences in the form of online courses – and these courses are being released in the coming weeks!

And they…. are…. magnificent.

The courses are chock full of content, stories of learning and leadership, practical applications, and opportunities to reflect and create. They’re everything you’d hope to have in an online learning experience, and everything you didn’t know was possible in an online “course.”

And as a bonus, when you enroll in any Modern Learners course, you become a member of Modern Learners Community. Our learning commons is close to 1,000 members strong, and filled with dialogue and discussion, events on a variety of topics, and curated content to get your brains thinking. It ain’t no Facebook group.

To celebrate all of this excitement and give you a glimpse into what’s coming with the release of our new courses, we’re hosting a

Leading and Learning Event Series on Crowdcast, starting on Monday, June 17!

leading learning event series graphic

In five different sessions, we’re sharing key learnings and resources from many of the Modern Learners courses being released in the coming days (!), weeks and months. From professional learning to inquiry leadership to building a school culture grounded in student voice and reimagining assessment practices, there’s something for everyone!

Won’t you join us? Click here to learn more about the event series and register for your favorite sessions. (And follow Modern Learners on Crowdcast so you don’t miss anything!)

As always, thanks for your support, and I look forward to learning with you!

Belonging in learning communities and beyond.

This post was originally written for the Modern Learners Shifting Conversations column on our blog! Thanks for reading! (And listening). 🔈

Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. -Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

What’s more obvious to you: Knowing you belong? Or the keen (often painful) awareness that you don’t?

I can clearly recall times in my life when “belonging” escaped me. When my family moved mid-4th-grade year and I sat in a new classroom, surrounded by unfamiliar faces. My hair had been recently cropped short. I wore glasses for the first time. No one talked to me. It seemed everyone was petrified of the new girl who cried every day. In middle school, I didn’t wear the trendiest clothing brands, had early 90s permed hair and still wore glasses, in the weirdest of colors and frame shapes. My sense was that I didn’t belong to the group of peers who seemed to hold the social power. At times I didn’t belong to my family when for much of my youth I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) embrace the farming/rural culture I was expected to live in and contribute to. Because I wasn’t born there. I resented the move to the country. That place made me feel angry and confused and alone.

That’s just adolescence, you may think. Everyone’s awkward. No one feels like they belong.

I guess therein lies the problem.

From the outside looking in, judgment passed on the value or impact of a person’s experience is wildly problematic. No single person or group of people can possibly define how, when, and why another belongs.

Belonging emerges from within.

Have I experienced true belonging in my life? Perhaps. On my collegiate field hockey team. In a classroom learning alongside my students. In an online message board sharing art and exchanging life stories with other paper crafters. In motherhood.

In a Twitter chat, circa 2009. In a social network where the sharing of ideas and a commitment to dialogue was paramount. That when you think about it, you’re moved to tears because that feeling of belonging was so great and it’s kind of disheartening knowing it’s gone:

But are these examples of true belonging? Of times when I was able to present my authentic, imperfect self to the world, my sense of belonging no greater than my level of self-acceptance? I’m really not sure.

So, what does belonging have to do with Modern Learners? Why are we sharing this in Shifting Conversations?

Because we have some difficult work to do, and we need your help. We want your help.

18 months ago, the Modern Learners team gifted me the opportunity to start building a learning community from the ground up. We’ve made a commitment to this space, through its ups and downs, its gradual growth in membership, conversations and celebrations, and its challenges.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: community is hard. For those of you dabbling in social spaces, connecting with educators in the Twitters and Facebook groups and the like – those networks can hold a lot of power. They can exert influence, for better or worse. But has true community emerged? And if so, how? Is there a sense of belonging among members? True belonging?

This is the work we aim to accomplish in the coming months in Modern Learners Community. Our April theme is Belonging. How do we develop belonging in our learning organizations? What does modern learning for all mean? How do we create conditions that result in a safe space where vulnerability in learning is encouraged and supported?

From day one, we had a vision for this space. We wrote community norms. We detailed expectations for interactions, posts, and member behavior. But we can go deeper.

This week I listened to Build a more human internet with Caterina Fake and Reid Hoffman on Masters of Scale. Some of my takeaways:

We are creating civilizations. We are the framer, the establishers of laws, and norms, and we have to set the culture from day one. What you tolerate is what you are. You want to be part of a community that shares your values. All platforms are value-laden. So how do you create a set of values that have shared objectivity?

Culture sticks.

Who do you want to be? Who do we want to be? These are some of the questions we’ll be asking this month and beyond. We’re going to collaborate on a community project where we construct a set of community values with input from all stakeholders. We’re going to dig deep into notable works about belonging and apply these ideas to the development of our value statements. We’re going to ask questions. A lot of questions. And all of this work can be applied to your own work with students in your classrooms and schools.

  • What does belonging look like in my classroom or school community?
  • How do we describe learner interactions (both verbal and non-verbal)? Who contributes? Who doesn’t? Why?
  • Who do your community members see? In their classrooms, on walls and in print, in positions of authority?
  • How is identity and diversity honored in your schools?
  • How are our systems, policies, or hierarchies dehumanizing learners, and how can we restore humanity for all?


We are proud of MLC as it exists today. And we know it can be even more powerful, more inclusive, more accepting. MLC is a place where everyone is valued. We “share similar emotional commitments,” as member Rich TenEyck has remarked.

I’m looking forward to this work, where we move from a network where learners can explore topics and content that matters to them and their schools to a community where true belonging can occur. This is going to involve breaking down barriers, challenging assumptions, and being brave:

The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness. It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our ideological bunkers, and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt.

True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are. We want true belonging, but it takes tremendous courage to knowingly walk into hard moments.

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are. -Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness

Hey, here’s the thing.

Maybe, just maybe, you don’t fit the mold. You’re not what they expected. You think differently, you feel differently, and you are a teacher “doing remarkable things because your conscience says your practice should be aligned with your beliefs. Whatever the consequences.”

Maybe you lead with subversion. You have ideas to better serve all kids, particularly those who have been marginalized, dehumanized, and who are punished by the system.

Maybe you’re tired, on a number of levels. It’s unclear where, exactly, you’re going to end up, given your consistent commitment against the status quo. But you do know that remarks encouraging you to be some kind of educational hero or savior or reading post after post with eduplatitudes angers you more than inspires you. You feel alone in this work. You trust sparingly.

But know that you bring experiences, wisdom, and insight to modern learning that are uniquely yours. We couldn’t begin to imagine the worth you hold in this world. Maybe one day we’ll be privileged enough to learn about it.

As you reflect and move forward in leading this week, think about the words of Margaret Wheatley, and what this world needs. And tell us in the comments about the work you’re doing and resources you reference when you build learning communities where every person can belong.


What This World Needs

This world does not need more entrepreneurs.

This world does not need more technology breakthroughs.

This world needs leaders.

We need leaders who put service over self, who can be

steadfast through crises and failures, who want to stay

present and make a difference to the people, situations, and

causes they care about.

We need leaders who are committed to serving people, who

recognize what is being lost in the haste to dominate, ignore,

and abuse the human spirit.

We need leaders because leadership has been debased

as those who take things to scale or are first to market or

dominate the competition or develop killer apps. Or hold onto

power by constantly tightening their stranglehold of fear until

people are left lifeless and cowering.

We need leaders now because we have failed to implement

what was known to work, what would have prevented or

mitigated the rise of hatred, violence, poverty, and ecological

destruction. We have not failed from a lack of ideas and

technologies. We have failed from a lack of will. The solutions

we needed were already here.

Let us use whatever power and influence we have, working

with whatever resources are already available, mobilizing the

people who are with us to work for what they care about.

Who Do We Choose to Be? by Margaret Wheatley

Who do we choose to be?

That’s what we hope to define this month and beyond in Modern Learners Community. And we invite you to join us. We’re going to do this work, because we have to. We’re not going to wait until the conditions are perfect, or we have the most articulate plan. With or without you, the work will be done.

But we’d much prefer to do this work together.

After all, this just might be the place where you belong.