Feed your mind with RSS–that is the title of my upcoming presentation for the 2007 South Carolina EdTech Conference. Yes, I received notification that my proposal had been selected as a session presentation. SC’s EdTech has been in existence 10 years. I am shocked to say this, but I have been at each and every one of these annaul conferences. I have presented in seven, and this year will make eight SC Edtech conferences that I have presented. As I reflect, I have difficulty remembering all the things I have presented on, but let me try. I know these are not the actual titles, but here goes:
- Electronic Grade Bboks (my very first state level presentation)
- Using Office in the classroom
- Multimedia at my school
- A School Level Technology Fair
- Building dynamic websites (Netscape Composer, Microsoft’s FrontPage, Macromedia’s Dreamweaver)
- The Library Program as a Catalyst for Tech Integration
- Video Production in the Classroom
- and finally, this year’s presentation, RSS Feeds
Each one of these presentations is very special to me. I’ve been an educator for 22 years. But I have only been a Teacher-Librarian for twelve of those years. My first two years as a TL I attended this conference, but found myself critiquing the presentations. I told myself instead of criticizing the content, I should instead contribute. And so began my role as conference presenter. I can share funny memories, some even horror stories, all stemming from my experience as a presenter. Here are just a few:
- My FIRST Presentation: I presented creating a free electronic grade book–this had to be 1999?? maybe even earlier. I know it was before Integrade Pro (the South Carolina electronic grade book program.) I remember attesting to my group of roughly 50 attendees that there was a state program on the horizon, but I had the solution for them NOW. I basically taught the group how to use a spread sheet to set up and maintain grades, even weighted grades. I demonstrated how to take a word document, create a midterm or letter, and do a mail merge of the data from the user created “grade book” to send home interims, grade reports, or parent letters. Very well received but I was so NERVOUS! You see, I had talked big the year before about how easy a presentation would be, and that with my handle on the content (since I had been using a spread sheet all the way back to 1986 to do my classroom grades) I knew content would not be a problem. But here is what caused my grief. I thought of this one as easy because 1) I had a handle on my content, and 2) because I didn’t know anyone, it would be easy to deliver the content to room full of strangers….or so I thought. People began filling the room quickly. The first one I knew was my principal and a teacher from my school. OK, no sweat. They could attest to the ease of my grade book program. Then in walks 2 of my professors from library school. Suddenly I was hoping I lived up to my description in the book! Then coming through the door was the entire technology department for the school district of which I was gainfuly employed, including the director of tech. Sweat beads began forming. So I go in the hall to take deep breaths and try to compose myself–I’m now a nervous wreck. There were still folks trickling in. While I was waiting to go in a group of five teachers came to the door to see if there was seating. I noticed them looking at me strangely and talking quietly. Finally one came up to me and asked me what my maiden name was. I answered her quizzically, and suddenly I was mobbed with hugs and cries by this group of teachers, none of whom I recognized at the time. They were all teachers who had been from my high school, and they recognized/ remembered me (along with all my six brothers and sisters) from my high school days. Of course they went right in and sat front and center. So now you can imagine the pressure I was under. I had several different types of people I needed to please, and I to this day don’t know how I got through it. I did manage to do a good job though–I guess. It was a memorable experience though for the special attendees I had.
- Web Editing Tools – When I did my presentation on web page tools, I had an attendee in the session who I felt was a guru in web creation, especially for library pages. Boris Bauer works in Greenville County at Berea High School, and has been recognized before by Joyce Valenza, library guru and information goddess. I asked a friend who knew him well what in the world was he doing in this session, and his response was mine sounded like the best of his choices for that hour. I’m POSITIVE I did not teach him anything new. And to this day I’m trying to figure out if that was a compliment or not…I hope it was. The crowd liked it well enough. I got an ovation and many, many emails to follow it.
- My Library/Catalyst presentation earned me an invitation to Nashville , Tennessee to work as a consultant for a three day workshop on topics stemming from my presentation. It was fun, and my group assured me they learned tons. My goal was to give them many ideas for collaborative planning and how students could demonstrate information literacy and concept mastery through tech integration.
- My video production presentation was also accepted at FETC in 2006, and it was the first time I had taken it to a more national level. At that time I was thinking that perhaps I would submit a proposal to a national level conference, like ISTE’s NECC. So I submitted it to FETC, which I felt was like a regional conference. It was accepted, and I went to Orlando in January that year to present. One of the attendees asked me why I was in Florida for this presentation. When I explained my desire to eventually present at a national level conference, and that I was using FETC as a feeler of sorts, she laughed and asked me if I realized that FETC was as big as NECC. FETC is big. My room had 15 rows of ten seats. 150 seats. By the time I began, every seat was full. As I was in the middle of this presentation, the room became even fuller, as folks who had come in late (probably from where they ditched their first choice) lined the walls and began sitting on the floor. That was a worry of mine. I had already noticed that if a session was not what that group expected, they had no qualms about getting up and leaving. So I guess I should feel honored that these people came into my session late. And none left to my knowledge. Either way, it was a memorable experience.
Will I eventually present at a conference like NECC? I don’t know. With Web 2.0 tools, I don’t feel I have a great handle on them myself, and so who am I to think I could present them? I’m still learning myself. But I do rather enjoy presenting, especially because I get to add to my presentations the importance of collaborative learning and information literacy (while at the same time emphasizing the importance of the school library media program!) Yes, it’s self serving, but I feel like I contribute, and that’s really what it’s all about. Sharing knowledge to enrich learning for students.
Wilson, Tim. “Welcome to the convention center.” Tim Wilson’s Photostream. 21 March 2006. 13 August 2007 <http://www.flickr.com/photos/timwilson/115991624/in/set-72057594087510898/>.