I’ve just finished my first real conference presentations. I was lucky enough to be invited to be a part of the AISA Educator’s conference in Johannesburg this year. It was a fantastic, challenge that has my mind spinning and exhausted. Three days of two and a half hour each morning and afternoon sessions will wear a fella out. I’m worked, but also already thinking about what I could do better.
How cool to get to spend three days in a room with educators from across the continent sharing and learning together. Participants represented schools with great internet, to almost no internet and thirty plus students in a class to only thirty-five students in the entire school! Talk about diverse needs in a session.
I feel like things went pretty well. My task was facilitating discussion and learning around technology integration. We spent our time discussing the SAMR model and the ISTE standards for teachers and students and of course, experimenting and exploring digital resources. The initial feedback I’ve received was positive and participants seemed engaged throughout the sessions. I look forward to seeing official feedback from the conference evaluations soon.
As I reflect on improvements, I think the time spent exploring tools needed a little more structure. In fact, one participant suggested this in the feedback. I provided a spreadsheet with tools and room to add comments and reviews as well as other resources, but it was not well utilised. At least not the comments and review parts. In the future, I’ll structure the form differently and look to have participants commit to a particular group of resources or at least a specific number of reviews. In the end this would make the document more useful for everyone. I also feel like I need to work on the closing of each day. This was an issue for me in the classroom as well. I could do better with a short review and reflection exercise at the close of each day. That’s a pretty easy fix. I just need to do it.
By far the most positive takeaway from the experience is the time spent with new people. It is energising to be in a room full of educators eager to learn and improve their craft. The open sharing and willingness to take chances, ask questions and help one another was invigorating. I’m thankful for the opportunity to make those connections and share moments with each of them. As we were leaving, one of my new friends stopped to give me a hug and turned and hugged my children as well while she invited us to come visit her country someday. I hope we can.
Which actually brings up another excellent part of this adventure. My wife was also presenting at the conference, which is cool in itself, but that meant that our kids came along with us as well. We had made arrangements for them to have people to hangout with while we worked, but they helped us set up our rooms for our sessions, made friends with other kids who were tagging along and got to see us teaching and learning with other adults. They definitely picked up on it too. One night before she fell asleep, my girl said to my wife, “Mommy, I love learning.” You just
can’t ask for much more than that.
Now its back to work and the regular routine, but I’ll have this experience in my back pocket now to return to and reflect upon as I look forward to what might come next.