Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Reflections on Baby Steps

Needed to sit down and post these reflections on my presentation now, before it gets absurdly late to do so. Funny how a week back in the grind me in total manic mode. Not that that's a bad thing...


In prepping for the session, I ended up using Dan's "start with handouts" first tip. I tried to build handouts that had plenty of white space for taking notes, included a few of the key quotes / points from the preso, and were also aesthetically pleasing. Busted out gridlines to make sure everything lined up Just So!

I'd already had the idea to use a sandcastle example to illustrate procedural vs. navigational learning. So when I went to the handout, it just seemed obvious to find a sandbox and slap it on there as a background image. The fact that it was a turtle just made it all that much better. Animals Rock!

I think I overplanned so much on the slides & handouts because I really had no clue what I was in for. And just like in teaching, when you've got a lesson you want to go over really well, you control what you can and cross your fingers about the rest.

Amount of time we're talking about, from researching the preso to building the handout, slide deck, website, and talking it through to my plants? Wow. Gotta be close to twenty hours I reckon.

Another reason I did so much planning was that I didn't know what sort of audience I'd have. Would they be teachers who already dabbled with wikis but wanted more ideas / experience? Or would they be those who are truly fearful of new technology, but were willing to come to a tech conference to try it out?

I ended up having the latter - which meant that they had LOTS more questions than I anticipated, and we needed to spend lots more time going through the specific capabilities / drawbacks of a wiki. Not a bad problem - just meant that I had to go slower and whiz through the RSS section of the preso.

I was really grateful to the IT support staff at KGV, they had a few extra laptops on hand ready to go, which was needed as a number of people in the session didn't bring their own.

Something that fortuitously worked out was that the desks were arranged into pairs. Learning a new tool it is always easier to do when you've got a neighbor to turn to for a quick fix.

I was also glad with how I managed to overcome my nerves. This being the first time I was presenting in front of my peers, I just told myself, "you're about to make ten new friends." So when everyone came in, even though my brain was running through the preso, I shook hands, introduced myself, asked about what school they were at, all that stuff. This also put them at ease with me, giving me a much more responsive / receptive audience.

Why do I think I did a good job? Well, those numbers on my last post should say something. And then when people were leaving, a couple grabbed extra handouts for their colleagues. But what was the best moment by far was the person who seemed to be looking at her handout instead of paying attention to a panel discussion by some BigShots. See, this teacher had excused herself from my session about halfway through - her own laptop couldn't connect to the network, and the pc she was using from the classroom ran out of batteries. I kinda thought it was a polite way of getting out of a session she didn't enjoy. But then, to see her later checking out the handout like she had said she would - sweet.

Although it's possible she was looking up a note she had written to herself on my handout about something completely unrelated...can't let hubris get me too much.


And of course the big reminder to not get too far ahead of myself was that on Monday I was asked to share some of my preso to the rest of my colleagues. Does it need stating that teachers who have elected to spend a Saturday on a holiday weekend at a technology in education conference are going to be a better audience than a group of fifteen teachers on a Monday afternoon after a long holiday weekend, five of whom are leaving the school at the end of the year, all of whom were told off by the principal first thing Monday morning for not doing the paperwork we're asked to do?