Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Do I Push Myself?

Official Presenter Tag for #cuerockstar Napa
Yes, I did it! I decided I could actually present outside my district again. After whining about the attendance numbers at my first attempt, I wasn't sure I wanted to even try this again. However, I sent in my application to present at CUE Rock Star Napa and was told by THE Jon Corippo that it was mine if I wanted it.

Now, the nerves. Now, the anxiety. Now, the self doubt. Who am I to be teaching alongside the likes of Will Kimbley, Nicole Dalesio, Jennifer Kloczko and Jon? These people are the superstars in the CUE world. Me? I don't even have very advanced tech skills. I like my computer, camera and iPad. But by no means am I a whiz at using any one of these tools.

My Presentation Tools
I have never had formal Google training (although I am about to fix that). I use a small number of iPad Apps- all related to classroom functions. I'm not a GCT or an ADE; nor do I have any other 3 letter title I could put on my business card.  Does the DEN count? It stands for Discovery Educator Network and I only have to talk about Discovery Education a couple of times a year to keep my status, and that is really easy. Except for educational authors Jonathan Bergmann and Dave Burgess, I don't have any famous contacts or friends in my twitter followers. I don't even follow many celebrities unless you count Hall Davidson, Reed Timmer and Dr. Lodge McCammon. These guys are only in my Twitterfeed because of my connection with Discovery Education. I am not a big fish in my own district. I wasn't even invited to present at our upcoming Technology For Instruction Saturday Workshop next week. Needless to say, I am not highly sought after as a speaker.

Day 1 Shred Session- CUE ROCK STAR  Napa
SO why do I push myself to present and invite myself to apply when I know I am not one of the popular kids on campus? I could just continue my work with my students - which is my PRIMARY goal anyway - without having all these anxious moments.

Last night, I just had a twitter conversation with one of my tweeps (@mhall209) about this very thing. How do I get better at presenting? Of course, I next wondered...Why do I do put myself through this? What do I want out of it? I had to give this some thought.

I always want to learn more. I am 54 years old and did not go to a premiere university for my undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology.  I was NOT a brilliant scholar of science, probably because I do not enjoy doing the math. I CAN do math, I just don't like it very much. I am actually more of a linguist. I love to read and write. I am proficient in Spanish and French. Language concepts seem to come easier than some of the more technical aspects of science content like Chemistry and Physics. Still, I would consider myself a true "Jack-of-All-Trades" and a "Master of None." I am kind of good at a bunch of things, but not great at any one thing.

Summer Learning- Micropipettes and Gel Trays
I am curious by nature and I want to know about all kinds of stuff. It follows that I would also like to learn more about the technology that I use in my practice as a teacher.  I learned a lot during those undergrad years in college, but we never really used any high tech equipment. I had to find ways to introduce myself to PCR and gel electrophoresis. I had to get more advanced science and technology skills to stay up to date with the textbooks in my classroom. I have been to many STEM summer workshops to learn more practical and technical skills for teaching my content.

My student learning to use a micropipette

I push the envelope for myself because I want to know if there is anything I can improve to help my students learn the concepts and skills I teach. If I learn ANYTHING that can have a positive impact on JUST ONE STUDENT, then I  have now made a difference to that kid- for life!  Still that does not explain why I am not satisfied to just stay in the seat as a learner, so that I can absorb more and pass it on to my students.

My student using the iPad to demonstrate learning.
Maybe the reason I want to present to adults is because I see that there is a need for those beginner level learners of new tech skills. I want others to be excited about the POSSIBILITIES for enhancing the experiences they provide for their students. I think having a role model like me- gray haired as I am- will show other seasoned teachers that learning is a fluid, constant process. We CAN meet the challenges that our students present to us with their gadgets and gizmos. We don't have to ignore the tools that they use inherently. We can be the classroom content expert and still provide opportunities to learn information and skills in a manner they understand with equipment they know how to operate.

Most of the tech presenters I admire are years younger than I. Most of the ones that are close to my age have been in educational technology far longer than I. I am at an age where others might think that I "should" be winding down; not ramping up my learning. In a way, that is WHY I do this! I want others of my age to know that if I can do this, so can they.   I also want those who are younger than I to get ideas for content and classroom management. I believe it when Jon says that WE ARE THE ROCKSTARS! I drank that Rock Star Kool Aid a couple of years ago. I do it because I believe there is a need for educators to see others in the practice doing what they do best!

We are all tasked with being leaders! I want to learn from anyone willing to teach me what they know.  If you have not considered being a presenter to other teachers, you should. Whether you show others what you know informally or at a "professional" workshop,  do it! I am certain that you have something vital to share- even it if isn't tech related.

Some of the most engaging presenters I have learned from in the last few years include:

Jon Corippo (CUE- Apple)
Rushton Hurley (CUE)
Will Kimbley (CUE)
Nicole Dalesio (CUE- Apple)
Jen Roberts (CUE)
Catlin Tucker (CUE)
Ramsey Musallum (CUE)
Lodge McCammon (Discovery Education)
Hall Davidson (Discovery Education)
Lindsey Hopkins (Discovery Education)

Let me know what you think? I would love to hear your ideas on how to improve my presentation skills. I would also love to hear why you present to other people in your profession. And if you are not a presenter, what is holding you back?