One girl's story

There is a seventh grade girl in my class. If you came by to visit, she probably wouldn't stand out. The moment she sits down, it is all about the work. From keyboarding to keeping her podcasting group focused, she is all business. She doesn't want to just complete the challenge, she wants to excel in it. Sounds like a dream student, doesn't it? This girl has a problem though.... she is about to fail the seventh grade.

When I first heard about this problem, I was in shock! How could this focused girl be so different in other classes? I had to know what was going on so I went to a direct source for information, the girl's mother. It turns out this girl has ADHD, but when she is interested in the topic she can have ultra-focus. The mother says she LOVES technology, which causes her to focus. It explains why when I call her name, she never hears me. That also explains why when she is forced to unplug, she loses that focus.

Why do I bring up this girl in a blog post about continuing funding for EETT, Enhancing Education Through Technology? EETT funded the computer lab that this girl thrives in every time. Additional EETT funds would provide the hardware necessary for this girl and the other 1,199 students to learn in a way that comes naturally to them. EETT funds professional development for teachers to address the needs of digital natives. How can we "Race to the Top" if we go backwards in technology?


My Conference Evolution

My first major conference experience occurred five years ago when my school had a grant that afforded me the opportunity to attend the NMSA ( National Middle School Association) conference in Philly. It was a jaw- dropping event for me as a new middle school educator and I wanted to make the most of it by attending all ten sessions. The vice principal that come along with us at the time made a comment at the time that I really didn't understand until this weekend. While I don't remember the exact phrasing, she said that I was "missing out" because I was attending so many sessions. All I thought was I was missing was the information from the other sessions and that our VP might be wasting school funds, but after attending the MSET (Maryland Society for Education Technology) conference these past two days I realized I was wrong.

In two days time, I presented in three sessions, was backup in one session, and attended one and I couldn't be happier. I could have dedicated myself to attend all sessions and be quiet while searching for new bits of information, but I think I wouldn't enjoyed myself as much. It was better to catch up with those I never get to see and engage in great conversations with complete strangers.

Normally I end a convention day heading home or a hotel room, but not this time. After a quick turn around there was the MSET tweetup and a night in the inner harbor. It was a great night filled with laughter and friends.

Saturday was a little unusual since this was the first time MSET/MICCA was on a Saturday. Attendance was low, but it made sessions more personal and attendees felt comfortable speaking up in sessions. That was probably the most relaxed I have ever been in a presentation, but I still gave my attendees my best. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for others that presented at the end of the day. This was another lesson I learned for the day: Always respect your audience whether there is two or a hundred. Don't just muddle through out of obligation. I know a little off topic, but had to be said.

So what is my advice about conferences?

It is all about balance.

Of course you should attend to learn and grow as an educator. The day I feel like I don't need to learn is not only the day I quit going to conferences, but I quit the profession. Please take time to be social.
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Add to your PLN
  • If there is an after hours meet-up, get your second wind and join in
  • Make your Professional Learning Network more Personal