Inspiring others really has to be one of the most gratifying moments that one can feel. You’ve given a viewer or listener hope, a new outlook/viewpoint, or reason. It is like a “super” connection or a chemical reaction that takes place in the moment. As an educator, you can tell when this happens; eyes get larger, the lightbulb face we all know, or the quick reaction of telling others around. In fact as educators, we inspire each and every day in the classroom. But does it have to remain there?

I was asked to participate in our school board’s Teaching and Learning in a Digital World (or TLDW) conference and I jumped at the idea.

What a great avenue to connect with others. This conference wasn’t all just about technology in our schools. I took from it a more philosophical mindset in my teaching that was echoed by our various keynote speakers Justin Reich, founder of and Clive Thompson, writer for Wired Magazine and contributor for New York Times Magazine, which was that we need to use the vast amounts of technology we have at our disposal to teach our future how to be creative and to solve. And what to solve? As Reich mentioned in his keynote, it is the non-repetitive task/problems, that need to be the focus; computers are already good at solving patterns. We need to prime our youth of tomorrow to being able to think on their feet, and be creative problem solvers.

What are we preparing students for? #TLDWPeel — Jason Richea (@jrichea) August 20, 2014

My inspiring really came when Justin stopped by my display setup after his keynote, and didn’t act like a movie star, he simply wanted to learn and potentially be inspired himself. I was quite impressed by how interested he was in my story of how the students in my class created their own mobile apps. It brought me more motivation to share my story with the over 600 fellow educators that were at the two-day conference. Over the two days I spoke to many about how awesome our students can be given the opportunity to shine. It was a great example of our motto this year in the Peel District School Board: “Inspire. Greatness. Together.”

What else was inspiring was the dedication to all of the organizing committee and the commitment to our school board to run this conference. It was a great example of why families of students in the PDSB should be proud, should feel lucky in fact that you have such interest from the people who are with your children most of the day from Sept. — Jun. Each and every one of the 600+ visitors to the conference had something to take home, something new to try, something that inspired. As an organization moving forward, this conference is a great example of how shared practices bring new life to the walls of our schools and will no doubt spread, bringing us that much closer to greatness. But as our motto states, the best part — we’re doing this together.