Sunday, February 23, 2014

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

Flickr image credit 

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!


  1. Thanks for the mentions. I am glad I was able to provoke such a thoughtful response from you. My practice benefits when I know people are thinking about what I say and responding!

  2. Thanks for the inspiration! Hope to see you again soon!

  3. I too cant say enough about Presenting! Rewarding, powerful and fun

  4. Jennifer, I agree that there is something surprisingly satisfying about presenting to a group of excited teachers - even if you are just a few steps ahead. I love it when teachers learn together and I think that's what you are describing. BTW, I think the link to Kathleen's post is broken. I found your blog through Twitter. Blogging takes a ton of time. Thanks for providing value to other teachers.

    1. Hi Melissa! Thank you for stopping by! And you are right, that link was broken, thanks for letting me know! You're welcome- I love reading others blogs and they inspire me to write! Have a great week!

  5. Wasn't ETC!14 amazing? I was also a presenter there and came home with great resources along with feelings of pride to be a part of such a great group of educators. BTW, I am lucky enough to have worked side-by-side with Jon Corippo while he was with us here at Minarets. He is part of the group of Rockstar teachers who inspired me to become a presenter. I actually get a little shot of adrenaline just prior to beginning my presentations because it is so fun to teach teachers and learn from them as well. I hope to see you at Annual CUE this month. I'll be presenting there as well:)

  6. Hi Gege! I loved ETC! I had never been to that conference, but it was incredible! I'll definitely be back next year. It was fun to take a road trip with our little Natomas Charter group and meet some new people. You are r ight about the adrenaline, I always get charged up from the room. Love the energy! Thanks for stopping by and I will see you in Palm Springs!

  7. As someone who is relatively new to presenting, I echo your feelings about wanting to present so you can be around others who love learning. Going to conferences is one thing, but to participate brings learning to a whole new level.