Sunday, December 1, 2013

How Do You End Up Bowling With Awesome People at Fall CUE?

Okay, so this isn't a super serious seeming question. And yes, fall CUE was over a month ago. But bear with me...

Pic via @mrsfadeji - thanks Amy!
The backstory: Saturday night at fall CUE I ended up going bowling with a crew of awesome people. An eclectic group of folks with no common strand - location, subject area, teacher/administrator - other than they were connected educators. Everyone knew everyone from the Twitterz. That was the commonality.

Sidenote: this night was a freaking BLAST. Not an upset - get a bunch of teachers together and you’re bound to have fun.

It was here, with this wide-tanging group of people, that I wondered how people ended up there bowling. This question spawned the title of this blog post. How do you end up with this group of folks? There were newly connected educators. Folks who have keynoted big conferences. People who run conferences all over California. It was an enormous mix of awesome folks and since this gathering spawned the question, it seemed like a good place to try to get an answer.

I think that everyone needs a push - or needed a push - to get involved and connected. I wouldn't have been bowling with this group of people if I hadn't met Diane Main - my edtech momma - at the MERIT program in 2011. And then proceeded to go do stuff she told me to do: yes, the inaugural edcampSFBay. Yes CUE Rockstar. Then at some point I just went off and did things. Not awesome stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

I needed that push though. I needed to be told to go and DO. But does everyone need that push? This seemed like the group to pop that question to.

And the consensus - unanimously - was that yes, folks needed the push. Everyone there could identify someone who had pushed them to get connected, someone who said go do this thing. Or these things. From the newly connected to the veterans, everyone got a push from someone.

I followed this conversation up with other folks as well. Out of all the folks I talked to, I only found one person who had organically gotten connected and involved in the edtech world.

So what? Well, it means people need to be encouraged to go and do. Hit up that conference. Start blogging. Think about presenting at this event. #EduPressure. #EduEncouragement. Whatever you want to call it.

I've heard too many folks - awesome teachers who do spectacular things with their students - say that they have nothing to share. That what they do in their classroom isn't really that cool or innovative.


In the follow up to this admission of 'I don't do anything cool' my follow-up question is always about a cool activity or project they do in their classroom. And inevitably, within five minutes, we've found at least one conference presentation or blog post that could happen right now. Often times it is several.

What else does it mean? Well, for me at my site, it's easy to get discouraged. Outside of the tech I got through grants (and my private wifi network that I got through whining to the right people), there isn't really any functional tech on my campus. Or a wifi network that is robust enough to support even the most rudimentary BYOD program.

For obvious reasons, this makes it really hard to integrate tech at Hillsdale. So what can I do? Yeah. That's the question. I'm lucky to be part of an awesome three-headed instructional technology committee, the first of its kind at Hillsdale. I'm hopeful we can keep pushing forward. I know we are advocating for the right things from the district.

I'm also pushing hard to get folks at my site to apply for MERIT this summer. Two weeks of intensive - and paid! - hands-on edtech goodness did wonders for me. In fact, eventually - once I got hooked into the Twitterz - it revolutionized my classroom. So I've slowly been talking up MERIT to a group of about ten teachers on my campus.

I'm not confident that my approach - how I try to get people more involved and comfortable with edtech - is the right one. I do know, though, that I'm trying to push. Gently (though I know some would argue a more gentle touch is needed) but a push nonetheless.

What is your approach?  How do you encourage people to get more involved and comfortable with edtech? With revolutionizing classrooms and education?