Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why do I present? Taking the show on the road...

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In one of my sessions at #CUERockstar Napa last weekend, a teacher asked me why I liked Twitter if it made my phone buzz all the time. “You can turn that off,” I said, “but actually, that tweet was someone answering a question we couldn’t figure out from the morning session. There were about 10 tweets in 10 minutes when we got stuck trying to figure out iMovie trailer on a MacBook and we couldn’t find the answer with Google!”

I love Twitter. I find inspiration there EVERY day. But that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because my phone went off in the grocery store. My new friend (we just met for real in Napa even though we’ve been talking on Twitter for a few months) Kathleen Diver had tweeted out her most recent blog post and mentioned me. Now, I am not THAT girl who stops in the aisle and blocks the way while messaging, but I was intrigued, so I powered through my last few aisles so I could get to my car and check out her blog post. You can read it here. It’s a great post and raises quite a few questions about who is a rockstar in the teaching and tech world. It's funny, I’ve never met someone who claims to be a rockstar (most people will say they are not rockstars!) but everyone I know can make a list of people they consider to be rockstars. I am not a rockstar.

Kathleen also asks why we present to other people in our profession, and if you are not a presenter, what is holding you back?

Why do I present? I thought about this question all the way home from the store. I was surprised how many different answers came to mind. Some practical, some philosophical...

1. Presenting is kind of a weird word for me. Yes, I usually prepare a “presentation” but really, any time I’m leading a group, whether it’s 6 year olds or teachers, I feel like I am just teaching. The presentation keeps me focused and organizes my thoughts, but  I LOVE teaching and learning. This is my 17th year in education and I’ve always enjoyed leading learning with adults and kids. My first shot at “presenting” was teaching my colleagues in 1997 how to build a webpage in Netscape. Was I an expert? No way! I was just a few steps ahead-- enough to share. But even leading that group was still messy and I recall figuring out stuff together.

2. I still get nervous. I lead workshops as an Area 3 Writing Project teacher as well as technology workshops. Even as recently as a year ago on the morning of my presentation I felt like I could throw up! I really admire anyone who puts themselves out there in front of complete strangers. This is why I will never walk out of a session. It’s a tough gig sometimes, and I appreciate all of the work that people put into it. Every presenter I know reflects and wants to improve.

3. I love presenting because I get to attend conferences for FREE! I don’t have a lot of extra money in my personal budget to attend conferences, so by applying to present, I can get in for free! Even if my school is willing to pay to send me, I always try to present if I can. This past weekend I attended #ETC!14 for the first time, presented one session, and had my mind officially BLOWN more than once. I get to go to a lot of awesome conferences in some amazing locations. Most tech presenters are not paid, or in the case of #CUERockstar our hotel is paid for. My work for #A3WP is paid, but last summer I bought my MacBook Air with the proceeds, something I could never have afforded without it.

Kathleen also asks what makes a good presenter, and how she can improve… I have never seen Kathleen present but I love that she is a passionate learner. I think about the people I love to learn from, those “rockstars” and why I love to be in their sessions. Really, I just love being near them! I totally love being with people who love their work, who are passionate and inspiring. I was in a session with Muffy Francke, and she blew my mind with Aurasma in the last three minutes of her session. I left her session wanting to know more! I had never seen her before, but I will never forget her. Truly a rockstar. Joe Wood is one of those people I love to be around. He makes me feel like I am getting smarter by the second! Or Jon Corippo-- brilliant! Both are totally friendly and approachable. And I know many, many people who are these passionate lead learners-- too many to list.

I also love when sessions are interactive- when I get a chance to try out whatever thing I’m learning about. Messy fun is my favorite!

Why do I present? In a nutshell, it’s because I get to connect with passionate educators who are excited to learn. I love Twitter for the same reasons! I’m looking forward to meeting you somewhere in the future. And if you’re not yet presenting, you should definitely think about it!

Monday, February 17, 2014

#CUERockstar Napa: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy & Why I Love My School

First follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Why I love my school:

There are a few videos I could watch over and over and this is one of them. I had the chance to see it again this past weekend at CUE Rockstar in Napa. Now, I know that if I asked any of my friends or colleagues, they will ALL say that I'm the shirtless dancing guy. And I am! However, this is not the important thing about this video. At my school I asked these questions: Are you the shirtless guy? The lone nut? Are you the first follower? Do you love to dance?

No matter if we are the crazy one to start the dance, the first follower, or one who joins in later, the important thing about our school is that we all dance! All of us! As I was walking my crazy cute puppy around the block today, I could quickly think of an instance where every one of our staff members did something new, fun, or amazing that inspired each of us to think about trying something different. As I start the process of finding new staff members to join our team for next year, I'd really like to just show them this video and ask them if they're ready to dance with us! I love, love my team because they dance their bootays off!

Just dance.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

#CUERockstar Reflection: Napa by the numbers

American Canyon High School
I spent the past three days learning with 60 smart educators at #CUERockstar in Napa. It's actually American Canyon, if you want to get specific, but if you ask me, I spent my weekend in Napa! I always love the quiet drive home to think and reflect, and I'm excited to be home to blog about the weekend. All during the drive, I kept thinking about numbers, and how much I learned over the past three days. Here are my thoughts: Napa by the numbers.

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The power of one. Every single person is important. As a presenter, I am honored if just one person chooses to learn in my session. I will never forget the time I arrived at an 8 am conference session early, so excited to learn from a well known presenter and someone I follow on Twitter. At 8:10, the session still hadn't started, and the presenter said, "Gosh, I don't know where everyone is! This is usually a packed session!" And she waited for another 5 minutes to start, I remember thinking, "I'm here! I'm somebody!" I just want to say thank you to everyone who chose to spend some time sharing with me this weekend! You made my day!

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Two. I love two hour sessions. The more I present, I think that at least 90 minutes is required for an awesome ed tech session. Any new learning, really. You need to actually have time to make, to create, to play with your new learning. Most one hour sessions provide just enough time to show and tell. Rockstar's two hour sessions are perfect for learning and making! I was so excited to see the book trailers, blogs, and Google sites teachers created in my sessions!

There were also two new apps I learned about this weekend. Check them out!
Make movies... or book trailers? Thanks @jcorippo 
Cool photo swirls! Thanks Nicole!

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Three. How awesome are three days of learning? Especially in a beautiful location! Even on the drive to Napa after work Thursday, I was questioning the wisdom of giving up three days of a four day weekend for a conference. But the three day format of Rockstar in a fun location is perfect. The true #edugetaway. It felt like a vacation, complete with yummy dinners out, wine, and some amazing company. Did I mention my mom joined me in Napa?
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Four. Four of the awesome book trailers made on day 2! We used iMovie Trailer, PhotoPeach, and Animoto in our session.
Book Trailer Makerspace

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies!
Game of Thrones Storyboard
Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies by @jenny_derby @bdavisbarbara and @norcaliteach

Click here to view!

I Need My Monster by Amanda Cogdill

Game of Thrones by Michael Alger

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Five. Five o'clock. The time I left work on Thursday and the view on the way to Napa... The sky was unreal!

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Zero. I have thought a lot about this number. Last summer as a first time Rockstar presenter, I was terrified that no one would attend my session! But, at the end of Tahoe last summer, I also remember thinking that I had loved every minute of it, but that I also hadn't had the opportunity to attend any of the other sessions. There were so many amazing sessions and presenters! This trip, I have a totally different take on the number zero. It hasn't happened, but if I ever have a session and no one joins me, I'll head to another room and join a different session! I love, love to teach, but I also love to learn. 

Thanks for an amazing weekend!