The San Gabriel Valley EdTechTeam Summit was an amazing learning experience for me – both as an attendee and a presenter. As I mentioned in my previous post, I always find something I can take away from each summit. It could be a big idea (such as, transformative instructional strategies or technology tools) or something as simple as new tricks for Google products.
There is always something to learn.
Whether you are attendee or presenter, new to technology or a Google Innovator, there is still so much to learn from these summits because…Guess what? You don’t know everything. Shocking, right? If you realize that you don’t know everything, then this will be the moment in which your mind is the most open to learn.
In my first post about the SGV Summit, I shared some of the amazing sessions I attended on the first day of the summit. To view my sessions, visit my training page HERE and check out “4 Easy Steps for Flipping Your Classroom” and “Googley Resources for Monday Morning”.For day two, I spent half my day presenting and the other half attending sessions. Just as yesterday, I attended some amazing sessions that really inspired me to try some new things in my classroom. However, I want to spend this post discussing my experience as a presenter, specifically, ideas or strategies I want to remember for future trainings and presentations. Based upon audience feedback, I felt like the sessions went really well, but I believe that there is always room for improvement and ways in which I can grow. As a big proponent for transparency, I am going to share with you my self-reflection on my progress as a presenter at the most recent EdTechTeam Summit.
#1: Training teachers is very similar to teaching students.
If there is anything that you read in this post, I hope it is this section because it is the most important, but often the most overlooked. Teachers are basically large students – except with a smaller attention span and less patience. The statement “teachers make the worst students” can sometimes be true but…stop. Think about that statement and apply a similar negative statement to students. “My students aren’t interested in learning.” “My students don’t care.” “My students wouldn’t be able to do this.” This begs the question…Does the fault really fall with the student or is it the teacher that needs to be rethinking what they are doing in their classroom?
In the same way, if teachers are not engaged in your presentation, maybe you need to start reevaluating whether or not the session is truly engaging for the participants. Just as you would with your students, find ways to engage them in their learning process. What kind of learners are these teachers? What type of session do they need – more information or more hands-on? How do I need to modify my presentation for the different abilities in the session? These are all questions that run through our teacher minds on a daily basis but these are also questions we need to be asking the same questions when we educate other educators.
#2: Model the process and strategies that you are using in your classroom.
My classroom style focuses upon the blended learning instructional strategy where students participate in a combination of online and in-person lessons, activities, and projects. Students are given a lot of choice in our classroom to choose what they need to work on based upon their individual needs and abilities. Many times, I might have 3-5 different groups working on a variety of different activities or projects. Students may be completing notes, participating in a small group to review notes with the teacher, completing skills practice, working on their stock market or genius hour projects, enrichment activities/projects, etc. One of my goals as the teacher is to ensure that students have a choice to learn at their own pace and with the tools they need to be successful.
If this is how I teach in my classroom, how can I model the blended learning and differentiated instructional strategies during a presentation with a group of educators. I am not sure that this is something that needs to be a part of every presentation. However, I feel like you can end up “killing two birds with one stone” if you do incorporate it into a presentation. First, the teachers would be learning about technology tools that they can use in the classroom to support student learning. Second, the teachers would be able to see what this process looks and feels like since they have participated in a “mini-version” of it during the presentation.
Personally, I know that this is my area of greatest growth. In both of my sessions, the teachers were able to interact with the technology tools and the pedagogy behind it was discussed. Yet, I think I could build more time into the presentation to explore and interact with these tools.
#3: The world is filled with inspiring, engaging, and kind-hearted educators.
In both of my sessions, I met some of the most inspiring, engaging, and kind-hearted educators who truly wanted to learn new strategies to help their students learn. The conversations that I had with these teachers were amazing. We talked about instructional strategies, strengths, and weaknesses. We connected via email and via Twitter. We shared ideas and ways that we want to help our students learn and grow. I cannot express how much I enjoyed my presentations and it was 100% due to the awesome educators that attended my presentations.
#4: Always continue to refine, improve, and update presentations.
As teachers, we should always continue to refine, improve, and update our lesson plans to meet the learning needs of our students. The same principle must be applied to any professional development that is being delivered to educators, particularly when dealing with educational technology.
It will never be perfect and that is okay.
One of the main reasons I am writing this post today is to remind myself to continue to grow and evaluate the professional development that I have delivered. I want to remember the areas that I felt were strong but, especially, remember the areas that I felt needed to improve. The only person that I can be be better than is the person I was yesterday – so, always continue to grow and evaluate why you are doing what you are doing.
#5: Just be yourself.
Over the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to deliver professional development at several events. Initially, I would deliver my presentations in a very “professional” manner, AKA “uptight” and “nervous”. Over the last couple of times, I have told myself that I am just going to be me. I am super nerdy, a little crazy, and totally goofy teacher that is completely in love with the field of education. Why hide my excitement for what I do for the sake of “professionalism”? Can I not be both – a fun and professional presenter? I hope so!
Yesterday, I decided I was just going to be myself and have fun with my presentations. As someone who tends to be naturally shy around people that I do not know, it was actually kind of liberating to just be who I am and teach in the way that I normally teach. The attendees might think that I am completely insane but I do think I showed my passion for education. Just be yourself.
As I look back upon this summit, I can see that there are many ways in which I grew both personally and professionally. I had the opportunity to get feedback from other presenters and I am looking forward to receiving the feedback from the attendee evaluations. Personally, I want to grow and improve as an educator so that I can support my students and fellow teachers. Any advice and feedback can be good feedback as long as we use it as an opportunity to learn and improve our instructional practices.