Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are We Just Preaching to the Choir?

I received some good news recently...I had some conference proposals accepted! Anybody who knows me personally understands that I am an introvert. You would think that speaking at a conference and my personality type would not match up but that could not be further from the truth. I thoroughly enjoy speaking to groups, sharing my knowledge and experiences, and participating in a good discussion. There is something energizing about speaking to a group and thus I am excited for the opportunity to do this again this year.

As I have for the past six or seven years, I will be presenting at the Midwest Education Technology Conference (METC) in St. Charles, MO. This is a wonderful conference to attend and the audiences are always receptive to what the presenters have to say. Looking at the sessions for this year, I am excited to attend many sessions and continue my learning journey. I assume most of the conference participants are excited too. They are excited because as fellow users of technology, they see the value that integrating technology has on student learning. As much as having a receptive and supportive audience is great, that is also the problem with technology conferences. We have a large segment of our teachers who are not attending and not hearing our message of technology integration. These teachers could really benefit from attending a conference that is out of their comfort zone. So when I am presenting at METC, am I preaching to the choir? How do we get some new participants to these conferences? How do we share all the ideas, conversations, and resources from the conference to those not attending?

With these questions in mind, I did something different this year. I sent a proposal to a non-technology conference and it was accepted. In March, I will be presenting at the Show-Me Staff Development Conference in Columbia, Missouri. My session is title "Non-Traditional Staff Development in the Digital World". I will be talking with teachers and staff developers about building a PLN through online resources and curating these resources for individualized professional development. I am pretty sure that my session will be different than most of the other sessions, and it is my hope that I can provide a fresh perspective to a new audience. By presenting in a different setting to a different crowd, I will not be preaching to the choir. It is my goal that some of my participants will start their online learning journey after leaving my session. This is my chance to spread the word to a new audience!

This infographic shows how educators are using social media and the work that needs to be done in this area. With this in mind, I find it important to spread the word about the value of technology integration for classroom and professional learning. Presenting at different conferences and bringing new participants to technology conferences is just the beginning. Let's reach out to a new audience and provide a new voice.

What strategies can we use to reach our teaching staff?

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