Why do I put myself through this?

This is the question that I have been asking myself for the past few weeks. I gave up part of my Spring Break for this. Many hours of sleep were lost over this, as well as, personal leave days. It would have been easy to skip it, but I would have never gotten the answer to my question. I would have missed more than just an answer, I would have missed a valuable experience. The "this" is the 2009 MICCA conference in Baltimore.

The experience started too early in the morning and I was a nervous wreck. I was grateful to meet up with The Art Guy (Aaron Smith) to calm my nerves until my Google presentation started. Just a simple conversation allowed me focus and let go of some of my nerves.

Shocked is not a strong enough word to express how I felt when my Google presentation didn't have a empty seat. Some were willing to seat on the floor, stand in the back, and some even stood in the hallway. It was odd to be the expert of the moment, to have a silent room, and applause at the end. The weirdest of it all is to have people surround me with questions and comments after the session which for person that has been an conference attendee for many years the final sign that is was a successful session. The cherry on top was being offered a paid presentation opportunity. More details on that when it happens.

The rest of the conference went well, including my Web 2.0 presentation. It was great to catch up with so many that I haven't seen in awhile and to make new connections. When I wasn't presenting I got to see some great presentations and have conversations on how my district should be moving forward in technology.

I actually started this post during MICCA which is now weeks ago, so you might be wondering why it took so long to go live. The reason is that I wanted to detail the after effect. 

I went directly back to school the day after the conference and it was a disaster. State online Science testing had begun so I had to build a make-shift computer lab in a small portion of the media center. Instead of conservations about moving forward, I had to hear conservations that have been replayed for the past four years. It was depressing to say the least and now my title question was applied to my everyday profession: Why do I put myself through this?

After getting over the shock I realized the answer was simple: Change. I know that I can't expect things to move forward if I am not willing to help. And so I will keep challenging myself and giving myself more work than required in the hope for change in schools. Kudos to all of those fighting the same fight and I hope to see you at at the next conference or tech event. You are my inspiration.


When one Yes isn't enough

It worked! It worked quickly! It really put me in a state of shock. So what is the "it"? A couple of posts back I mentioned this session by Jason Levy that I saw on Ustream about how to change the Principal's "no" to a "yes" when it comes to technology and I finally put his ideas to the test. My thought was to start with a small idea just to see if it would work. The idea was to create a Twitter account for the school so administration could push out alerts, links, info, etc. My old strategy would have been to pop in my Principal's office (she has a great open door policy) and spout out my idea in a couple of minutes. In retrospect, this was a stupid strategy for a number of reasons and was the main reasons why so many ideas died. This time I would bite my impulsive tongue and develop a plan to get the "Yes" I was looking for.

To get the right answer, I had to make sure of a couple of things:
  1. I had to make sure my Principal understood the concept of Twitter. 
  2. I had to make sure she understood the educational value of Twitter. While I have been on it for awhile and understand this concept, this step was harder than I thought. Especially when you are battling the media and how they are portraying Twitter as a tool to say what is going in your personal like to a bunch of nobodies.
  3. I needed to make this process as easy as possible on administration. That meant researching possible account names, how would they have access, and how all parents would have access to the information even if they aren't on Twitter.
  4. All of this information needed to be in a format that was easy to follow.
Google Docs and the Common Craft Video series helped me a lot in this project! Even after I was done with the presentation, I resisted sending it off to administration and sent it to a tech-savvy colleague for feedback. This is a big step for me, but I as I have gotten older I understand the importance of peer editing/revision.  Not much to change, which was good but I still didn't share it with the administration. 

Why you ask? I wanted to wait until a Sunday to send. I know that on Sunday my Principal is less stressed, but is still connected to her email account. So I sent it and figured I might not hear back for a couple of days. I got an answer back in MINUTES! She was excited! She took the idea further by asking if this tool could be used with the staff.  It was amazing like a magic trick! 

I can't wait to use this method again! It is a method that really allows me to lead from below when it comes to technology. The whole experience made me appreciate what administrators deal with on a regular basis and the million decisions they have to make every school year.

Is there a downside? Unfortunately yes. When my prinicpal said yes, she also asked it was approved by the district. Twitter is not blocked, so I didn't think it would be an issue. I figured I would use my tech connections to get a quick okay, but it would not be quick. Turns out we are the first school in the district to make the request and that is a problem. A month later it is making it up the ladder to the superintendent for approval. No wonder schools are decades behind. I guess we all have to break down the barriers one "yes" at a time.