I spent the day yesterday being annoyed that there weren’t more of me to see all the sessions I wanted to attend.

I did get to talk to Jamie McKenzie a bit after his two presentations–that was cool. He was a superintendent in Pennsylvania until he got fed up and walked out one day. He lives out here in Washington state now and has made an incredible name for himself in educational technology. I particularly liked one exchange during his presentation:

Audience Guy (with an obvious axe to grind): “What do you think about getting more corporations to give schools their three year old computers? Should we push for that as a nation?”

McKenzie: “Well, it’s a terrible idea. These corporations foisting these old computers on schools–the repair and upkeep alone costs more than it’s worth. Kids need new technology, not old junk.”

Audience Guy (taken aback and now angry): “Well, how much power do you need, anyway? What would you need for just writing letters?”

McKenzie: “An Alphasmart. Buy an Alphasmart. That’d be a heck of a lot better than dumping an old junker on the class that can’t be supported. But hey, let’s have a drink later and talk about it! We obviously have diffeent opinions, but we can always knock it back and forth later.”

Amen. One of the toughest things in my job is finding gentle ways to tell people that something won’t work. My strategy is to not say no, but to give people a “different yes.” McKenzie liked that tactic a lot. It works well for me so far.

He also told us (several times) that we must ask for wild salmon in restaurants to get Pacific Northwest salmon. Otherwise you get farm-raised Atlantic salmon.