Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Unless You Ask, the Answer is No: iCERI 2016

I recently presented the ongoing results of my Google for Education Certified Innovator project at the International Conference for Education, Research, and Innovation (iCERi) in Seville, Spain. The requirements to present included: submitting an abstract for a white paper to a panel, submitting the fully formatted white paper after being selected, and then actually showing up in Spain to present the research.

A little about me. I am a teacher of 9 years in public education. Growing up in Ohio my parents all worked as nurses in various medical fields. I’m not sure I could tell the difference between APA and Chicago formatting. I know what a blind research study is because I listen to NPR radio. I learned what a peer reviewed study was at the age of 27 when I decided to pursue a graduate degree. The point I am trying to make is that my decision to present at a research style conference for educators in a foreign country wasn’t made because that endeavor is exactly in my wheelhouse.

The result of taking such a risk was well worth the bullets of sweat I shed in preparation for the event. I discovered a new type of educational conference that I would have otherwise never experienced. I found a community of people so driven to find plausible methods for change and innovation that they had conducted extensive research to find and develop their good ideas. In addition, the people in attendance represented 30+ nations around the world. I ate lunch with people from the UK, Ukraine, Australia, and Spain and we all shared our passions and ideas. The blend of unique perspectives combined with everyone’s desire to learn more about one and other resulted in an environment that kept me engaged and eager throughout the conference.

But, I almost didn’t go. That’s right, I did all that work to get accepted and I almost didn’t go the conference. You see I must have skimmed an important email where they discussed that to be eligible to present meant I needed to pay for my registration. When I saw that in addition to transportation and lodging (which I had anticipated), I would also need to pay an additional 500 Euros, I was crushed. All that work down the drain. After a day or two of fear and loathing, I decided to reach out to Mark Wagner, CEO of the EdTech Team. I knew his company had grants for innovative schools and for students seeking to attend conferences; my inquiry wasn’t exactly a shot in the dark. As it turns out, Mark informed me that his team had recently discussed a new program that would help teachers take the kind of risks I was describing. With more information Mark agreed to fund my registration with a grant from the EdTechTeam!  

As a result of attending this conference, a university in Russia wants to discuss ways they can use my project in their organization and the founder of a leadership consulting company in Barcelona wants to Skype and learn more about me! Not to mention the boost in confidence I got from hearing people clap at the end and seeing the nods of reassuring approval as I spoke. Both essential in the drive forward with a daunting project.

A map with pins showing where attendees are from
After a long ride to Seville, I needed a cafe!
A great mentor of mine once told me that the answer is always no if you don’t ask. From submitting my abstract for consideration to finding the funding I needed in order to go, all I really needed to do was ask. I hope my experience is proof to you that if you are looking to take a risk in your school or organization, the best place to start is by changing what you can change. Be confident in your own expertise and rest assured in your experience. You have what it takes to make things better for your students and if you need permission to do so, you should ask.

David Hotler
Google Certified Innovator

To learn more about my Innovator Project check out the paper!
To help us with our research take our survey!
Check out a 360 photo of the amazing venue, Barceló Sevilla Renacimiento.
Learn more about the Google for Education Certified Innovator Program.

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