As an educator you are always saying you're a life long learner but many of us get stuck in our comfort zone and push back when opportunities for change are presented. Well, I am determined to not be that person! I got into education to make a difference and positively impact the life of every student I came in contact with. That being said, I had the opportunity two summers ago to participate in the Area 3 Writing Project Summer Institute.
Before attending the institute a fellow teacher, who had already participated, told me that it would change my life. Now that scared me a little because it put really high expectations on something I knew I wanted to participate in, but wasn't sure it would meet a "life altering" experience. Now almost two years later, I was given a chance to present at a Super Saturday event for the Area 3 Writing Project on a topic that has come to form my belief in teaching along with my daily routine with my students.
After presenting today in front of about 25 Sacramento based teachers from multiple districts, I can now say I had that "life altering" experience I was told about two years ago (thank you Petra)! I went into this morning a little nervous and not completely knowing what to expect. I was presenting on STEAM and that was not the topic I had originally presented on in my institute demo, which made it a little more intimidating. However, I kept telling myself what I was presenting on was fun and engaging and more importantly my principal (Jennifer Kloczko) who presents all the time, said I really had something to offer other teachers. She couldn't have been more right!
By the end of my two hour presentation, teachers were coming up with ideas on how to incorporate technology into their classroom (may using similar tools I use), they had made either a boat or the Great Wall of China and most importantly they all seemed excited and motivated to try at least one thing I had presented on. You could see the inspiration, excitement and eagerness in their eyes and in the way they were talking to one another. SUCCESS!! That was all I kept thinking. I had a smile on my face, I felt at that moment that I had made an impact on other teachers (even if it was only 25 teachers). EMPOWERMENT was the next feeling that set in. I can't completely explain the high of feeling like you reached a group of people for the greater well being of students in those teachers classrooms. I walked away from today feeling grateful for this experience and opportunity and more importantly I walked away thinking I finally made that impact on education that I wanted to make when I decided to become a teacher.
By choosing to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do something I would ordinarily shy away from (I hate talking in front of large groups or being put up on a stage), I allowed myself to see what I have to offer to others. I can truly say this is the beginning of what I hope to be a life long commitment to changing education for the better of students. I also have to give credit to my principal Jennifer Kloczko for encouraging me two years ago to apply for the A3WP and for her help and support over the last couple of months (and really years).
Additionally, I had the opportunity last weekend to attend a CUE Rock Star event for the first time. It was great! It couldn't have come at a better time! I attended four sessions all on different technology based ideas you could use within teaching and even some outside of teaching (google photos... awesome). The atmosphere was energetic and motivating and really portrayed a movement in training that every educator should push for in any conference/ meeting they attend. One big take away I had from last weekend was from a session on presentations. Wow, can you say there is no reason for people to still be presenting in the "death by PowerPoint" fashion anymore. I took away some great tips and tricks from the presentation session and applied them to my presentation for today. What a difference... even my husband liked my presentation (he is use to Army "death by PowerPoint" presentations... 100 plus slides filled to the brim with small text).
In the end opportunities are what you make of them. No one is going to just hand you an opportunity. You have to put yourself out there and try new things... you will never know what you are capable of, until you try!