This spring I had the honor of being selected by our leadership and the NESA Center to present two teacher workshops at the Spring Educators Conference. This conference is near to my heart as it was where I met Scott McLeod & Jayson Richardson in 2013 and decided to pursue my MEd with UKSTL. This year was special because I got to spend professional and personal time with a great group of educators from my school. The time we spent connecting with each other and other attendees was valuable (I got to finally meet Jeremy and Stacy!).
I enjoy the mix of PD experiences at this conference – keynotes, teacher workshops, 4-hour specialist workshops. Plus the location is always a bonus. This year the theme seemed to be all the ‘other’ skills that students need, not content. I was pushed to think about why we do things in the classroom, how research informs instruction and teacher attitudes. It was the first time I had seen Heidi Hayes Jacob, Bena Kallick, Debbie Silver (absolutely hilarious) and Dylan Wiliam…and I learned a lot from them. They’ve made most of their material available on the NESA Center website. One of my favorite sessions was Dylan’s Formative Assessment 4-hour workshop. I appreciated his research-based approach. Because my colleagues couldn’t attend, I took notes for them. Enjoy!
One thing I would like to see going forward at the NESA SEC is facilitated time for connections. I ‘met’ a lot of people virtually while tweeting but didn’t have the opportunity to meet F2F. During morning coffee or lunch, it would be great to have tables set aside for people who would like to meet up with other educators. I found myself sticking to my comfort zone (my colleagues) which was great for this time but would like to have the organized opportunity to meet other people.
Two of my PEAK 2014 sessions were chosen: Harnessing the Power of Google for Collaboration and Creating a Globally Connected Classroom. Teacher workshops have lost of of their importance at the SEC (understandably) so I was excited to have the number of attendees that I did (not zero!). My resources are available on the NESA page.
Abby (who co-presented with me at PEAK) couldn’t make it to Istanbul for our Creating a Globally Connected Classroom presentation. So she joined virtually. It was the second successful virtual presentation of the weekend! It was a wonderful learning experience and just another reason I’m grateful for the power of technology. My mom even got to watch from Michigan 😉 I’m excited to present with Abby again at the CISD Camp Inspire in Michigan in July!
Last week Christina emailed six staff at our school to share information about the first ever #nesachat. Then we got thinking about how many staff at our school are actually on Twitter. We were pretty surprised (and excited) that there are 15 of us! For our school, this is kind of a big deal. The dominoes started falling from there: I created a list of all our Tweeting peeps, we settled on a new hashtag (now #AISQ8, formerly #AISK), and started tweeting about our MS/HS Edcamp (#edcampq8).
This week we’re taking it a step further with a slow chat (#AISQ8chat). We’re hoping to expand on what people already know about Twitter and help some of our staff become more comfortable using it as a professional development tool. This week it will be a 3-day slow chat centered around a Twitter K-W-L. Details are below (created by Christina). Please help initiate our staff to the power of Twitter by participating with us 🙂 Looking forward to it!
To be honest, I attended the NESA Spring Educators Conference this year because my husband was chosen to present. Instead of wondering around Bangkok by myself for 3 days, I decided to pay (a lot) to attend the conference in the hopes of mediocre professional development. What I got was much more than that!
Networking: I had the opportunity to meet Dana Watts and Scott McLeod in person (and attend their sessions). I’ve been following them on Twitter for awhile and have a bit of a blog-crush on Scott’s Dangerously Irrelevant. I also found many new international educators to follow – my list is still primarily US-education based and I’m ready to expand my PLN! The discussions that took place on Twitter were equally as valuable as the sessions I attended.
Sessions: I really enjoyed the idea of the 4-hour workshops. Scott McLeod’s workshop blew my mind (as did the keynote). I was inspired & challenged by the content Scott delivered and by the collaboration that I participated in and witnessed. Check out the unit/lesson plan my group made (we had approx 25 minutes to create it). We then presented the lesson to another group who gave us feedback (and vice versa). I was completely overwhelmed at first (and didn’t like the constraints but then it got me thinking -if we could do this in 25 minutes, what could teachers who actually teach this content do in an hour (or more!)? And I ended up really liking the fact that Scott had given us constraints – it focused us and was much closer to reality (we all have standards…). If I had gone to nothing else, these two sessions would have made the entire conference worth it.
Decisions: Scott & Jayson handed out fliers for the School Technology Leadership programs at the University of Kentucky during the workshop. My first instinct was to set it aside without really looking at it. The longer I sat in Scott’s workshop the more I felt that piece of paper calling to me. I listened to Scott and Jayson talk about the program and did a little of my own research. Wow. Even though I’ve already started my Masters with COETAIL, I felt pulled to the UKSTL Masters. Scott, Jayson and Dana were nice enough to answer a few questions for me…and my mind was made. I’ve been (quickly) assembling my application ever since (due May 1). I’m really excited about the possibility of being a part of the next UKSTL Masters cohort (I’ll still complete the COETAIL certificate, but won’t do the Masters). The more I sit on my decision to apply the stronger the pull becomes to be a part of ‘it.’
So…the Spring Educators Conference was a success. I am bummed that I missed out on the opportunity to meet Doug Johnson and attend his sessions. Next year the conference doesn’t back up to Spring Break…but if there’s a good line-up of presenters I might just pony-up the cash and go again. 🙂
I’ve been kind of absent on here. Instead I’ve been busy traveling, planning PD and reflecting for course 1 of COETAIL.
We’re still having Reflector issues and it’s not yet been rolled out for our entire staff. I’d love to get everything solved this year so we can make it 100% available next year.
Jeff and I are heading to Dubai next weekend for the Middle East GAFE Summit. I’ll have my presentation up for viewing pleasure next week.
I also have some draft posts that I need to finish. My goal is to finish those before we head to Thailand and NESA for Spring Break.
Wow it’s been a long time since I posted anything! 2013 had a great start – we were home in MI for Christmas & the New Year and my sister, Abby, came back to Kuwait with us! She is substitute teaching for the semester and just signed a contract to come back next year to teach Pre-K. We’re pretty excited to have a little bit of home here 🙂
One of our biggest challenges as technology coaches this year has been getting teachers on board and actively incorporating technology in their classrooms. There have been a lot of ups and downs with our 1:1 iPad initiative and I don’t think teachers really know what to think – should they invest their time or is it all going to be for naught? Students currently have to pay a fee to acquire a school iPad and gain access to the wireless network. We’re not exactly sure on the numbers but somewhere around 40% of our student body (~2000 students PreK-12) have iPads. This presents many obvious logistical problems for classroom teachers.
As a tech coaches, we’re trying to decide where to focus this semester Last semester we offered Professional Development after school on Mondays. Although our turnout was good at first, the numbers slowly diminished. We set up a website, but we’re not really sure if our staff actually uses it. Plus we’re still trying to figure out the dynamics of working in a 3-person team.
For the most part our job this semester has become more individualized. The principals sent out an email for us and we’ve appeared at a couple meetings, but we’re trying the let-them-come-to-us method. We don’t want to offer PD that teachers don’t want or won’t come to. But we DO want to support our staff. We’ve been encouraging teachers to give students choice for assignments and allow them to use the iPads. Teachers (individually and in small groups) have started coming to us more to help them plan units & lessons, create their class websites or blogs and support them in the classroom during lessons.
Whenever I get frustrated or down I just try to remember that this is a growing year. I wasn’t involved in the process until we arrived in August (and I’m not always consulted now) so we all just have to work with what we’ve been given. We have some students with iPads which isn’t the ideal 1:1 ratio however it’s much better than most other schools in Kuwait (who don’t even have wi-fi). I’m looking forward to seeing how everything turns out in the next couple years 🙂
We’re still in the testing phase of this project. The 5 elementary teachers that are using the app aren’t having great success. We know that it’s not our network or the app itself (I have success using the app on my 2012 laptop connected to the school wireless) or the wireless adapters (we bought & installed 2 new ones with no success). We now think that it might have something to do with the computers that teachers are using (low RAM, etc). We’ll be continuing to investigate during the next couple months!
Some fun events coming up this Spring:
*Jeff and I will be starting our masters with COETAIL on February 4th
*Abby, Jeff and I will be traveling to Greece at the end of February for a long weekend (National Liberation)
*My brother and his girlfriend are coming to visit us in March for their Spring Break
*The three of us will also be traveling to Thailand and attending NESA in April (Jeff is presenting!)
If you’d like to read more about our lives outside of school, feel free to check out our other blog. 🙂