It has been nearly one month since I attended the Virginia EdTech Team Summit featuring Google Apps for Education for the third year in a row. Every year has proved rewarding in different ways with an incredible amount of information taken away. Choosing a session during the summit is always a challenge when you know that everyone there to present is Google certified and a practicing education professional. This year, 2016, marked a special moment for me personally when I was selected to present at the summit. Knowing the quality of presenters and the caliber of EdTech Team as a whole, the privilege to present was not one I took lightly.
Saturday morning, the first day of the summit, I arrived early to assist during registration, bright and early, around 7:00 a.m. Meeting various members of the EdTech Team including Ben Friesen, Tim Lee, Sean Beaverson, and Amy Fadeji was worth every minute of weekend sleep lost. After registration, it was off to the great keynote, Chasing Unicorns, delivered by James Sanders. An inspirational keynote that truly uplifts (& wakes up the audience given the summit was a Saturday morning) is a must to set the tone for the weekend of learning and to give the attendees a glimpse at what is possible. Mr. Sanders definitely didn’t disappoint and everyone left analyzing their recent experiences for their proper placement on the poop to unicorn emoji continuum.
Feeling energized after the keynote, I set out to find my presentation room in the large and impressive Charlottesville High School. Luckily, I had checked on my way from the keynote to see that the location had changed. Unluckily, it had changed to a room in a location that eluded me. Thinking back to registration I knew that Tim Lee of Amplified IT would be near the tables at the entrance. After finding Tim, I was given directions to the Sigma Center where I was to present. With all of my racing around the large room had plenty of time to fill up and was overflowing by the time I arrived. After clearing the last couple hurdles of positioning people where they could see the projection and, with the help of Jeff Faust, getting the presentation & projection actually working via Google Hangouts, I was ready to present.
I opened all of my many tabs to preset from via bookmarks in a Google Chrome folder and launched the first slide of my Google Slides slide deck. Just as in previous presentations this is one of usually 3 slides that get shown during the presentation as we quickly went to Google Classroom to spend 95% of the presentation time in the actual tool itself. The session, Google Classroom: Beginning the Paperless Classroom, went very well judging by the visible head nods throughout along with the applause and evaluations at the end.
With a successful session under my belt, it was time to dive into sessions and continue the incredibly informational weekend. After the first day concluded with a Demo Slam of new and very interesting Google tools it was time to plan for the 8 sessions to come on Sunday. Sunday began early with David Jakes inspiring with Learning at the Speed of Technology and proved to be one of great learning as well. As with many of the other attendees, my head was swimming with all of the many ideas that had begun to form and all of the technology tools that could bring them to life in a classroom. The main thing to remember, as I began to leave Charlottesville, was to run with at least one of these ideas, not to try and juggle them all to fruition at the same time.
I ultimately decided to test my resolve and attempt to juggle 3 things right away. First of these was to cultivate, nurture, and expand the professional learning network that had taken great steps forward at the summit. Learning and attempting new things is something we never have to do alone. Help and collaboration are always just a tweet or email away. Second of these was to improve and augment my web presence and knowledge. Lifelong learning is not just something good educators say, but something they practice every day. I have since reworked parts of my website, added a blog entry, tweeted more, built upon my PLN with great EdTech collaborators, and even passed another Google exam to become a Google Apps Certified Administrator. Finally, the third and final item being juggled was to use my session notes and presentations to truly drive meaningful technology integration at my division as an instructional technology resource teacher. I have already planned out training for next school year’s work week, run a great student project with video, slide voice overs, and other great student creations, and secured two free technology training on new and exciting tools.
I have realized throughout all of these reflections and steps forward, that taking on new challenges. Failure has traditionally been a figurative “four-letter-word” but this is truly not the case. Some of the most profound breakthroughs and impactful learning comes from seeds grown in the gray area of failure, something I like to call inspired creativity. So, in the end, I charge you with one challenge as summit attendees and/or lifelong learners; implement one powerful thing you’ve seen or learned that could aid your students as soon as possible and resolve to see failure as the stepping stone to inspired creativity.
Patrick B. Hausammann, M.S. Ed.
Emerging perpetual optimist, uncle, and #lifelonglearner… @GoogleforEducation Certified Trainer (#GoogleET), @Google Certified Admin, teacher, & ed. tech. Professional.