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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!