I am so excited right now. I attended #rcac13 today in London, Ontario. I was just happy enough to attend this conference, but imagine my excitement to be an actual “Breakout Session” speaker. I need to acknowledge Trevor Martin (@trev_martin) and Derek Stenton (@stentode) who pitched my presentation, as well as Carey Eldridge (@celdridge127) who encouraged me to do one in the first place. Then of course, I have to thank Doug Peterson, (@dougpete) Doug Sadler (@sadone) and their committee for choosing me.
Now, you might think I would have been overwrought with nerves when seeing the large number of attendees listening to the keynote. I was. However, I did know that my presentation would most likely have a small number of participants.
I enjoyed both keynote speakers of Travis Allen of ischooliniative and Gary Stager of stager.org. . They both spoke of ways to change education, thinking outside of our school box thinking. It made me think that we need to give our students more opportunities to learn in different ways than we did. We must be open to change and let students drive their own education.
As I thought about that, I headed to my presentation, which was entitled “My Class Page is Up! Now What?” This was meant for beginners using D2L or other blended learning platforms. Now, at this point, you have to be wondering, why on earth would they put me in the presentation field? Good question. This is like showing up with a bucket of nails after the house is built.
My first inkling would be to be embarrassed. I only had 6 people sign up for my presentation. Then: there is no way I’ll be invited back to present, because there just isn’t the audience for me. However, I am not. I am very proud of what I accomplished today and I’ll tell you why.
Taking to heart the messages I heard, “Think, Make, Improve” and “Work hard. Fail a lot, but learn more”, I have a positive outlook of today’s conference. Since I had a low number, my nervousness was significantly diminished having an intimate gathering. More questions and discussion flowed freely. I also gave a much improved presentation once my nerves subsided. I felt confident and excited to share the knowledge I had. (I was prepared, but it’s always comforting to feel successful as you work!)
I choose to believe conferences need to diversify their audiences. Typically, the people who get release time to attend are already strong leaders in their field. They may not all be teachers, but IT or administrators, eLc’s and DeLc’s, organizational representatives, company designers. Obviously, then need and should be there. They pass the information down to us. I have no issue with this. I think if we listen to what Travis Allen had to say about not just handing out technology and expecting the kids to know how to best use it, teachers need to be familiar with the tools as well. We all need to start somewhere, and that’s where I come in.
If administrators really want to see it happening in their schools, they will allow more regular classroom teachers to attend conferences to learn these things. Beginning steps. I like having the options of beginner, intermediate and expert selections. You may counter this by saying, maybe beginners should get their PD from their board on PD days! Yes, that would be good as well, but couldn’t we benefit from a wide selection of learning opportunities, chances to collaborate and connect and network and share? Mr. Allen said sometimes he saw the SAME mistakes happening in the SAME board. Diversify.
I’m happily calling myself a guinea pig. It’s ok. I had a presentation meant for beginners. There were almost no beginners at this conference. I’m getting in on the ground floor! This is promising. I may have helped someone today. Someone will go back to her school and implement an idea and make a change in her student’s class experience. She just applied “think, make, improve” .
I feel great. I overcame some of my fears and presented. I choose to see the whole experience as a positive one and hope that conferences like this are starting to diversify their audiences. Maybe I opened the door for another beginner, maybe I inspired someone else to create a presentation and share ideas – and that makes it all worth it!
As an afterthought, here is a link to a few of the tutorials I created for my beginner’s session. Tutorials