Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Racing to Learn

Guest Blogger Andrew Moriates

I quickly removed my sunglasses and put on my best look of remorse in hopes of building empathy in my prosecutor. I roll down my window to the sounds of black boots methodically working their way through gravel.

“Where ya headed today, Sir?”

For a quick moment, I think about faking a life-threatening emergency, but I buckle under my reflection peering back at me from off of his aviator sunglasses, and I tell him the truth. I am hoping for the truth to tug on his heart strings of mercy and  for him to find leniency due to my honest grace under pressure. 

“I’m going to Shadow Hills High School for an EdTechTeam Summit.”

Blank stare. An eyebrow raise.

“I’m a teacher, and I am tired of feeling like my students are disengaged because of my outdated methods. I’m sick of feeling like I’m doing the same thing over and over again. I need something to change so that I can escape my current professional rut.  I’m going for a unique opportunity where educators have autonomy over their professional development while learning with other like-minded, brilliant, and passionate educators from around the world.”

Another blank stare. I had divulged too much, but I see him begin to soften.

“Y’er a teacher, huh?”

“Yessir.” Hope.

“Shadow Hills is a beautiful facility.”

“Yessir.” My word, is this going to work? 

“Unfortunately, I clocked you at 90 MPH.”

Oh boy.

“You seem like you’re in quite the rush to get to ‘work’ on a Saturday.”

“Well, Sir, if I don’t get there on time, I will miss Michael Wacker’s dance party.”

“Excuse me? Dance party? I’m sorry, didn’t you say this was ‘professional development?’”

“Sure, officer, but you must understand that this is not a traditional professional development that treats teachers like corpses.  They respect the teacher as a valued professional.  They know the importance of engaging their audience, and we have a good time. We learn, we dance to Pharrell, we build our professional learning network, and we party.”

“I love that ‘Happy’ song!”

“Of course you do, Sir.”

A smirk.

He grabs my license and registration and asks me to hold on for a minute.  I may have done it. I may have beaten the system.  I hope he doesn’t take forever to let me get back on my way.  I have amazing sessions to attend: Rushton Hurley’s brilliance on project’s my students will never forget, Molly Schroeder teaching me how to become a Google Ninja with amazing Scripts and Add-ons, Alice Barr disclosing the secrets of properly searching in Google, Kyle Pace’s clear and imaginative uses for YouTube in the classroom.  I have to get there soon.  I have to take my picture in the photo booth and cover myself in stickers!  

“OK, Sir. You have a clear record.” 

I do?  Did he overlook something? “Yes, I most certainly do, officer.” Proudly.

“I went ahead and wrote you a ticket for going 79 MPH, so that should help you a bit.”

False smile turns to truthful scowl. 

“Enjoy your training.  I like that you are trying to become a more effective teacher. Drive safe and be careful merging back into traffic.”

Blank, death stare. Sunglasses quickly back on. “Yep.”

I am not pleased by this setback, but it is worth a small inconvenience and fee to be a part of the Ed TechTeam Desert Sands Summit.  The individuals who run the event are excited educators who enjoy reigniting a passion for learning in educators from around the globe.  They know how to run a fluid event, and they inspire innovation by modeling outside the box thinking in, what is usually, very bland and ineffective professional development.

My weekend in Indio at the EdTechTeam Summit was memorable because I learned so much, became excited about trying the new skills and ideas presented to me, and because I met so many new friends to share information with.  My weekend in the desert was unforgettable. 


I loved my time in Indio so much that I am going back there on August 8th…for court. 

You can relive Andrew's experience (hopefully sans ticket!) at some of our upcoming California events, including the OC on Aug. 2nd and 3rd, San Diego Oct. 4th and 5th, and Los Angeles April 9th and 10th, 2015. Drive safe, folks! :) 

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