Friday, February 10, 2017

Summit Up! Soundboard Series

Summit Up!  My Experience with EdTechTeam Summits
(Kansas City, New Orleans, and Southern)

I am a conference pro!  I mean, I love a good seminar, summit, workshop, conference, unconference and whatever else you call it.  I guess you can say I am a lifelong learner who loves to share (my student loans definitely say that).  So when I heard about EdTechTeam Summits, I said, “Bring it on!”
Before my first summit, I was ready for a “two-day, hop from classroom to classroom, walk away with one or two good tips or tricks” kind of time.  I mean, I already use Google!  I am all Google Certified out (Google Level 1, Level 2, Certified Trainer and Certified Innovator).  I would present, pick up my two new tips and walk away.
Boy was I WRONG!
What I did not expect was to become part of a community of educators who were thirsty…hungry, not to only learn, but to share!  This was not the traditional “honor me for I am a Google god” type of environment.  This was a “hey, I know this tip…what do you have” type of learning playground that I had not had the privilege to be a part of too often.   

On this playground, I got to listen to guest speakers who inspired me to do more and be better…not just with Google, but in education and in life.  I was enveloped by presentations that not only gave me the tips and tricks, but also showed me how to incorporate them in daily lessons and in administrative duties.  I witnessed presenters become rock stars with their own little band of groupies who would follow them around from session to session, only to have more people see them and join the crowd (minus the groupie lighters because we were in schools after all).  I presented to groups of beginner Google users who were so eager to learn that they asked tons of questions and wanted to know when I would present the second level of the topic because they were ready and excited to learn more!  It was amazing to see educators band together during their personal time at a location that was completely unfamiliar for many of them to learn from not just the presenters, but from each other.  As I walked around the lunch area and as I ate, I would become a part of random conversations from educators sharing what they learned that day or sharing their own tips.  I could hardly eat my sandwich because I was taking notes and emailing myself little tidbits!  The learning just did.not.end.

And just when I thought it could not get any better, I was slammed with knowledge.  Demo Slammed that is!  What a fun experience to see short, 3-minute presentations of tools and tips and tricks!  It was such a fast-paced, fun (and funny), “what was that again” type of environment, I honestly forgot I was learning.  But I did learn!  I learned about some amazing extensions.  The  Panic Button extension (shout out to Nathan Kellogg) lets you press one button to close ALL of the tabs you have open in a second.  It then lets you bring them all back up with one click.   Mind blown, right?  I’m not even done!  I was also encouraged to prank people with the April First Prank Toolkit extension (shout out to Jenny Derby).  It makes the person’s computer you install it on go absolutely bonkers when they use Chrome (yes, I said bonkers)!  It was one of the funniest Demo Slams I had ever witnessed.  They say good things come in threes, so I have to tell you about one more.  This one is a life-changer!  It is the Auto Text Expander extension (shout out to Mark Wagner).  When you are using Gmail, this handy extension will allow you to type in shortcuts, like BBB, to bring up an entire paragraph of text!  So if you ever have that email that you send out over and over again, this will save you so much time.  Type BBB and that paragraph about the attendance policy pops up and you can hit send.  Wait...don’t leave to download these just yet...finish reading this first!
And all of that was just on day one!   
This was not your normal learning experience.  It was more like an intense summer camp that I just did not want to leave.  I felt like I was in a learning bubble of possibility and I didn’t want to leave and have it burst.  I walked away from each Summit with more people added to my professional learning network, with more knowledge and with more skills that will make me a better teacher, presenter, and overall educator.  I left each Summit excited, inspired, and downright exhausted from the exhilaration of learning.
Now, when do we start again?

Desiree Alexander
Instructional Technology Supervisor
Caddo Parish Public Schools
Shreveport, LA
Educator Alexander Consulting, LLC

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