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Don't Trust Conference Presenters: The Teacher Behind the Curtain

Written By marsono on Friday, November 30, 2012 | 9:36 PM

Recently I've noticed something about conference presenters (myself included). We're a bit phony. How so? Well, we jump up in front of poor, unsuspecting participants and show about 20% of our practice... the perfect, amazing 20%. Then we thank our audience and walk away with smiles as if to say, "Don't you wish you could do that?"

So, don't trust conference presenters. If you pull back the curtain, you'll see that the other 80% of our practice is rich with failure and - as such - important learning experiences. Moreover, don't expect to emulate what you see in the presentations - even 20% of the time - immediately. I'm not saying don't strive to set and meet goals based on what you learn at PDs, conferences and PLC meetings - but scaffold for yourself just as you would suggest for your students. At least in my case, it took me months - if not years - of experimentation with my iPads, AppleTV, Student Social Media, Chromebooks, etc. to gather the 60 minutes of presentation material to 'show out' in front of an audience. And even then, I'm still a work in progress - continually learning and growing.

As such, I've recently begun to make more of my learning experience transparent when I present. I try and show what didn't work and why - and also how I learned and grew from the experience. I do this before I demonstrate the current strategy, tool or process that is working well. My hope is that by being transparent about the real deal - the time, growth and challenges that I experienced - my colleagues can walk away from my workshops and sessions feeling empowered to rock out in their own classrooms. Because I know they all can - if I'm honest with my own journey.
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