Today marks a milestone that I honestly never thought we would be celebrating. Last night, my podcast TOSAs Talking Tech hit the 20,000-download mark. It is hard for me to comprehend that amount of support for a small podcast started by two teachers looking to get tech tips out to their fellow teachers.
We started podcasting in early October 2015, and it was almost on a whim. I had some podcast equipment from a previous project and it was just sitting around collecting dust. My fellow Tech Specialist and I were having the same problems trainers have all over education, we couldn’t get people to voluntary trainings after school, and yet we had a mandate and a job to do. It was obvious that our current strategies were not working, and so we thought up an on-demand style PD that could be based on screencasts and podcasts, to be there and ready when our teachers were ready to start learning. As many of you know, I cajoled and pleaded and begged and, in the end, tricked Mike into recording our first podcast, telling him “I just want to test something out, can you read this with me on the mic?” Two hours later, that episode was up on iTunes and I was awaiting approval for our new show, TOSAs Talking Tech.
Conference season, we like sharing the knowledge and love of conferences. We have talked about this on a podcast before (episode 34), but with some awesome conferences coming up, we need to talk about it again.
Get a favorite note taking method and go crazy. Whatever works for you, whatever you love to do, do it. Pen and Paper- Tom’s favorite. Bullet Journal, lots of pens, and lots of ways to get information. Digital- Mike’s go to. OneNote is awesome and shareable. Usable on your phone and device, very versatile. You can even put links to the session materials right in your digital note taking app! Sketchnoting can work with both types of note taking! great for summarizing and reviewing information! Cate Tolnai, Sylvia Duckworth, Ann Kozma, Misty Kluesner, Cynthia Nixon, and some other awesome people can help you get started! Check out SketchCUE going on Now!
Really dive into the schedule. It may be big and intimidating but getting one or two sessions per time slot is best, just in case your first pick fills up. Be mindful of distances between session rooms as well. Some session locations can be far apart, make sure you account for that. Also, follow the speakers on twitter and see if they have resources online already. Have they presented on this topic before? how big is their following?
Schedule some time for reflecting and downtime. This is essential, as you need to reflect on all of these ideas and process the info.
Follow everyone on twitter! Biggest and best decision I ever made for my professional development was to engage with twitter. Engagement is more than having an account, it is planting seeds with good people you follow and watching them bloom. Plant a huge twitter garden, and then prune it for what you need. Make sure your feed continues to serve you.
When in a session, think about the classroom application of what you are learning. Write some ideas down so you can remember them after you are done. I’ve had some brilliant ideas in sessions and forgotten to write them down and lost them when i got excited about my next session.
If there is a session you really want to go to but don’t make, see if the materials are available online. Email or Direct message the speaker, so many of them will send resources or will help out! Most session I go to have people that are more than willing to go that extra mile, all you need to do is ask.
Be social and have fun! I’ve made some really good professional connections, but even better friends and inspirations. Make connections and have fun, it will make your experience that much better.
Power! With most conferences, it would behoove you to bring your favorite device, and your phone. Don’t forget to bring your power supplies and cords and chargers and backup power. If you engage on twitter and make new friends, you are going to be on your phone using juice. Make sure you bring the means to recharge.
(any twitter handles you see in this post you should follow immediately!)
I work hard on the weekdays, eight hours a day of helping, troubleshooting and innovating, and I find myself most Fridays looking forward to some rest and relaxation on the weekends to help charge my batteries up for the coming week. In the teaching profession though, we know that the weekend can bring more work in the way of grading and planning and prepping for the weeks to come. It is just the life of a teacher.
But this weekend, my time was spent travelling almost 200 miles and taking part on some of the best and most rejuvenating part of my job, presenting and attending conference.