Dr. Matthew X. Joseph – Follow on Twitter @MatthewXJoseph
Fall kicks off state technology conferences. Some notable events include ACTEM in Maine, GaETC coming in for Georgia, Tech and Learning Leader had a summit in Denver and one coming up in December and many more state events this fall. I recently attended MassCUE for the first time in many years. I was proud to attend and present in my own state. I was excited to see some great presentations, awesome keynotes, student showcases, and meet some new educators to add to my PLC. There is nothing like being in the audience when passionate educators talk about the awesome things they are doing in the classroom. In my position, I have the opportunity to share many the cool things I see in my district (Milford, MA) and I also have a chance to visit other schools to see other teachers utilizing digital tools for instruction. But coming to MassCUE was all of this great learning in one.
So, we are all pumped up after all the amazing MassCUE sessions – Now what? Start by taking some time for critical thinking before you just jump into new ideas or strategies. With two full days full of speakers, breakout learning, and sessions, there’s a TON to take in. No way to remember it all – so, collect your notes and information and revisit them to help jog your memory and give you specific to-dos when you get back to work.
I took this weekend to reflect on my time at MassCUE (and catch up on sleep). In the spirit of collaborating, I wanted to share my thinking and ideas on how to take all we learned and move it from ideas to ACTION. On our MPS team Sarah Boyle (@MPSTech_SBoyle) created a shared folder and organized the high impact sessions related to our work to begin the reflection and sharing process.
Think about a few of these strategies to maximize the learning and share that learning with others who could not attend.
Take time to reflect
Give yourself a week to draft out a plan of implementation of new learning. As exciting as it can be to put things into practice Monday, sometimes mapping out a plan is more effective. Conferences like MassCUE can assist you to re-evaluate your work, lessons, and instruction. Before rolling out new ideas, try out new resources and tools that you didn’t know about before MassCUE. Don’t let weeks go by before you decide to revisit your notes and attempt to put learning into practice. Conferences, like MassCUE can only be as rewarding as you make them. In your week of reflection, make a list of all tools you want to try. It’s impossible to test everything right away, but this is about keeping your resources easy to find when you need them.
Review “awesome” ideas to ensure they are Relevant
Identify which elements of a session are applicable and relevant to your school/classroom. There were TONS of great ideas, vendors, tools, and strategies – but if they do not fit your current culture or teaching style, it is not going to be relevant to your learners.
Unrealistic ideas/goals and strategies are almost worse than not having any at all. Just because you may have learned that some classes have students blog twice daily to generate more learning, doesn’t mean you can implement that when you don’t have the environment or tools to do that.
This sounds obvious, but it’s also common to launch “GREAT” new big ideas because you saw it at an event, but do not have the tools or support to assure long-term sustainability.
Make the ideas YOURS
Once you have an idea, it is relevant, and realistic – consider YOUR strengths and capabilities to tailor any new strategies to fit your style. Repeating a speakers word — as valuable as they may have been — and trying to implement it will not be believable and you will not own it. Take the idea and combine it with your teaching strengths and your students. THEN it becomes impactful.
Now that you made the ideas your own and are ready to implement into your instruction, share. The current educational profession is about sharing. Blogging, tweeting, leading a PD session, and MORE to share what you learned. What are ways you can share MassCUE learning to connect with other educators, increase your PLN, and take your learning and own it through connecting online?
Share with school
Conversations with your colleagues are a great way to start sharing ideas internally. You can talk about the tools and how they work in your specific curriculum. This type of connection could get more teachers willing to try something new. Talk to Your Principal to find out if there is any time during a staff meeting or half day professional development (PD) to share some of the things that you learned at the conference. If you feel comfortable sharing in your school, consider sharing what you have learned to the whole district. Having worked in in a district leadership role the past few years, I know it is always impactful for teachers to teach other teachers something new. Facilitating a mini presentation on the interesting things you learned at a conference is a great way to help other teachers grow.
Blog about what you’ve learned after the conference and how you are going to use the tools to enhance your instruction. If you do not have a blogging platform, consider starting one on Worpress, Blogger, Tumblr, or Weebly. It’s very easy to get started. Then be sure to share posts so we can all learn. By blogging and sharing your exciting new ideas, the presentation you attended in a room of 10-40 teachers now has another chance to help hundreds of teachers across the country.
Find some chats with common interests and chat about topics and trends discussed at the conference. Let the conference topics be a starting point or stimulus for taking things further. Colleen E. Terrill, M.Ed., C.A.G.S. Director of Instructional Technology Mashpee Public Schools (@cterrillteach) shared a calendar of chats. Click here to check it out and find some that interest you. Some of my favorites are: #hacklearning #primarystemchat #MSAAchat #TLTechLive #masterychat #boldschool #ditchbook #satchat #122edchat #Edtechchat
Many speakers at MassCUE have written books or often suggest books for further reading during their presentations. They will also be able to recommend books in their area of expertise if asked to do so. Select one and talk it up in your school and maybe start a book study to dive deeper into the book.
The speakers and panelists at any conference are likely key experts in your field and also very open to share. I have been thrilled and honored to have some participants reach out to me the last few days asking for more resources or ideas. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions to presenters by email or twitter.
Take out all those business cards (or look at the names of all the free pens you left with) and make a list of those you want to reach out to, and give yourself a few days to send them a message to ask for more information. Just don’t wait too long— you want to make sure that they remember you when you send them a follow-up email.
Now that you had the chance to connect and meet new educators, spend some time going through MassCUE a think about how you can put some of the ideas you had into ACTION. Maybe some of these ideas will help or share your own using Twitter #masscue18. 363 more days to next year’s MAssCUE. Maybe think about presenting next year!!! #whosIN
And finally, a BIG THANK YOU to the MassCUE board and committees for all the hard work and hours of planning to organize this wonderful event. You are all changing the lives of learners through your efforts to educate todays educators. I was honored to be a part of this incredible event.