This past weekend, I had an amazing opportunity to work with my friend and mentor, +Michelle Armstrong as a part of her EdTeachTeam for the Thunder Bay Google Summit. What a fantastic experience to be a part of this brilliant team of presenters and educators. Alongside +Michael Wacker , +Donnie Piercey , +Emily Fitzpatrick, +Scott Monahan and +Les Macbeth, I was a Spotlight Speaker for the Summit.
I have presented at Google Summits before, but this was my first time as part of the team. +Michelle knows how to lead. As our fearless and energetic leader, she had us all in great spirits and high energy. I enjoyed being able to be there for the Pre-Summit day. I didn't present that day, but I was able to help out by running errands for Michelle so we were prepared to get the Summit ready at the end of the Pre-Summit day. Once I picked up Michael Wacker from the airport, I dropped he and his amazing daughter off at St. Ignatius High School. Michael informed me that the errand I was about to run (getting balloons for the summit), was a rite of passage. I was determined not to screw up this rite!
I returned from Party City later with 8 bundles of balloons - the car was packed, the trunk of the car was packed. Unfortunately, 1 red balloon did not survive. Sorry +Michael. :(
The next day the Summit began, and Donnie kicked it off with a great keynote. This was the second time I had heard Donnie's keynote. He delivers it so well, and has such great things to say. His keynote was entitled, "How NOT to EdTech". I was pumped after listening to him, so when I went to deliver my first session, "'Doc'toring up Your Word Processing Power", I was ready. In every presentation I had done prior to this Summit, I always had HUGE nerves. This time was different. I went in with confidence - I had something to share. My first session was great, I think I helped out several people to get them started with Google Docs, and a few Tweets confirmed that.
My second session was to be held in the "Cafetorium" - a VERY large auditorium. I was on stage with an extremely large screen, and at a podium talking to an even larger room.
I anticipated having OUTRAGEOUS nerves, but I didn't! I just kept thinking to myself, "I can do this." Well, I did. I confidently presented my material. Now, the room wasn't an easy room to present to, as there was a huge feeling of being disconnected from your audience. The lighting was in your eyes when speaking, you couldn't see the audience, and when I asked if there were any questions, I got crickets. Yikes.
Once I left the cafetorium, I sat down and opened up my Tweetdeck to see if there was any feedback. It was positive. Whew.
I was now down presenting for day one, so now all I had to do was enjoy my day and help out as a team member. Part of helping out is being visible to attendees, chatting with people and asking them about their experience to get feedback. This was fun to do, and the energy of the attendees was very high. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their day, and they were eager to keep learning a lot. One thing about these Summits is that when you attend, you tend to FILL YOUR BRAIN. There is so much information, but so much valuable material to take back to your classroom. Everyone I spoke to was feeling excited and inspired.
To end the day, I conquered a fear that I have had since I started presenting at these Google Summits - the DEMO SLAM. A demo slam is a 3 minute "story" you tell to demo a tool that you think teachers should be using. I need to work on the "story" aspect of my slam, but I think I presented something valuable. I did my demo slam on the extension "drive20". It will open up 20 files at once from a person's Google Drive. It is valuable to me because I like to monitor kids as they are working, so instead of taking up so much time opening document after document, I can use Drive20 to open all documents at once and then get right to work! When I was done the slam, I was so happy I did it. I was shaking ridiculously the entire time, but the fact of the matter is - I conquered another fear.
Day 2 went by just as fast as day one, it maintained the same energy by all participants and the learning was abound. My sessions on day 2 went even better than day one, and Twitter was showing me that people liked it. My favorite parts of the day were the opening and closing keynotes. +Michael Wacker and +Michelle Armstrong deliver powerful messages. Michael reminds us to have compassion to connect with our students. I appreciated his genuine emotion that came through as he spoke. After getting to know Michael over the weekend, he is truly someone who is resoundingly compassionate, and he is one of the best people this world has to offer. Michelle is a mentor to me, and one of my favorite people on this planet. Her message is about not being afraid to fail. It is this message, but in different words, that she spoke to me personally a few years ago that urged me to follow this path to learn and grow in the EdTech world. When she delivers her keynote, you can see on people's faces the impact she is having. She inspires people to TRY, to take that #OneNewThing back to their classrooms and integrate it.
To me - these Summits are so much more than presenting, networking, and seeing feedback on Twitter - for me they have been about finding my courage, confidence, and self-assurance that I have great things I can share with educators. I am growing, I am inspired by my colleagues, and I am empowered with every session I present. This is a personal journey for me, and I am a better person professionally because I have been able to be a part of these Summits.
I am fortunate to be able to do this when given the opportunity. My school, @rundlecollege , +Jason Rogers and +Gary Sylven are amazing for supporting me. Our students benefit, and I hope to help my Rundle colleagues to benefit from my experiences with EdTechTeam.
~ Charity Helman