It is never easy getting up in front of your peers to present at a professional meeting. This experience was especially challenging for me recently, as I was a new teacher in Richmond Community Schools district this year. The new year started off with a teacher work day, followed by a day of professional development at the high school. Needless to say, I was anxious about being a presenter that day!
The professional development day began with the entire staff gathered to hear a keynote speaker, Alice Keeler, who is well-known in the connected educator world. She is the author of several books, and travels extensively to share her knowledge of methods she has used with students. During her presentation, one could sense the enthusiasm she has for utilizing technology in the classroom. She also shared an interesting idea about students needing to figure things out for themselves. Several of my building colleagues enjoyed hearing that and the following week, we heard a lot of "figure it outs."
It was getting closer to the assigned time for me to make my presentation, but first, I had to attend the session that I signed up for after the keynote speaker. I have to admit, it was difficult to focus on the session because I was already going over my slides in my head. So, I left that session a few minutes early so I could walk to the classroom to which I was assigned. I was using the high school Spanish teacher's room that day.
Upon arriving to the classroom, I took out my technology, then proceeded to log on to the desktop computer in the room. I had prepared a Google Slides presentation for this PD day. My time slot was for 40 minutes, the session right before the lunch break. My topic was "Why Should I Be a Connected Educator?", and I had tons of information to share with my audience. I was pretty nervous, wondering which teaching colleagues would be there, and if any administrators might attend. Of course, when you are nervous, you tend to talk fast, and I think that just may have happened.
I started my presentation and had some short video segments imbedded to enhance the experience. Well, the computer or the monitor was muted, so I did not have sound on the videos. Thankfully, one of the attendees made a suggestion to solve the problem, and the subsequent videos had sound. When speaking in the future, I will know how to handle this, or anticipate the possibility. This was a great "teachable moment."
I continued talking to the participants and shared the information about the topic, and realized that I had a plethora of information and far too little time to disseminate it. I think this happens in the classroom as well, when we have a daily lesson plan and don't have a chance to cover all of the material for one reason or another. Several attendees asked questions during the talk, and this participation was encouraging. I concluded my presentation, thanked everyone for listening, and we broke for lunch.
Following the PD day, speakers received feedback from the administration. Most of the comments I received were very positive, and several teachers had questions that I will answer via email. Several participants suggested having more hands-on time to utilize the technology platforms I mentioned, so a longer time for a session would allow this to happen. I also hope to edit this presentation and use it this summer at the Richmond Summer of eLearning PD meeting. Several participants suggested having more hands-on time to utilize the technology platforms I mentioned, so a longer time for a session would allow this to happen. Feedback from my peers will provide me with the opportunity to improve the next time I speak at a professional development event.
I have done an incredible amount of networking and met some rock star educators by challenging myself to share knowledge at professional development meetings. Since I have given presentations previously, my recommendation for anyone reluctant to dip their foot in the water is, just go for it! With each time you step out of your comfort zone, it will become easier, or at least less difficult!
Elizabeth Stracener is the 8th grade science teacher at Dennis Intermediate School in Richmond, IN. She has been teaching for 15 years, mostly at the high school level. This is her first year teaching at Dennis. She was thrilled to be chosen to participate as a member of the Next Gen Leadership Cadre 2.0 this year. Elizabeth earned her B.A. in Sport and Movement Studies, (biology minor), from Earlham College, and a M.S. from Indiana State University in Physical Education (Athletic Training Specialization). Elizabeth was chosen to be a speaker last June at USM (University School Milwaukee) Summer Spark, a popular professional development event. She has also been a speaker the past two summers at the RCS Summer of eLearning Tech Expo. She is passionate about sharing her love of science, especially biology, with her students. Elizabeth has two grown children, Sarah and John. Her extracurricular activities include bicycling, playing several instruments with local musical groups, participating in local theater productions, quilting, and vegetable gardening.