Recently I was asked to support a group of learners with whom I have never had a lot of prior contact. Having never worked with these individuals before, I was not totally sure of their needs as far as technology integration was concerned. I was told they were a tough crowd. I only had one brief opportunity to begin to build the relationships I have found to be key when I work with educators and technology. I admit it…….. I was stressed……. extremely stressed….
Don’t misunderstand me.
I have never backed away from a challenge and the parameters of the day were hardly a challenge. I welcomed the chance to work with these educators! I had no doubts about my ability as a presenter. I knew I was more than capable of delivering an effective presentation. It certainly wasn’t about the numbers of attendees or having to provide more than one session or even about the length of the presentation.
It was about “control”. I was out of my comfort zone.
There were too many unknowns. I was in venue where typically I do not work. I had limited details about the framework of the day. I was using a technology tool which I normally use in one-to-one situations. As the day approached, I found out there were things going on behind the scenes that made me extremely uncomfortable. I was thrilled to be offered the support of one of my colleagues who works in the Spec Ed department who gave me some excellent advice. She told me to keep things simple. She told me to trust myself. She reminded me that the most important part of the workshop would be the time we could give to let the participants play and learn by doing.
So….. I did not prepare a powerpoint or Notebook presentation or Prezi…. in fact, there was no slick, scripted presentation with carefully rehearsed words at all. Instead, I created a general, one page outline for myself of important information I believed these educators would need to be effective with technology use in their roles. I looked at the resources available to them and made particular notes for myself as reminders of their whereabouts. Within the session, I built in time for the participants to actually use the technology and play. At the end, I built in time for participants to share their learning with each other.
I thought more about my audience and about each learner which is what I should have focused on from the out from the outset.
I believe the presentations went well. Individuals were appreciative of having the time to work things through for themselves. There wasn’t much sharing at the end. That’s ok. Before the second group left, I made a point of asking if there was anyone who still had a question or personal learning goal that I hadn’t met. There was a moment of silence, then one participant indicated that the two questions she originally had were answered. My “aha” moment came when asked what she wanted to learn, one participant said ” I just wanted to know how to turn it (the device) on”.
Reflection: Sometimes as educators, we get caught up in what we perceive are the expectations of the job. We work so hard to do what we think needs to be done. We listen to the countless number of voices who pull us in so many directions. We forget to keep things simple. We forget to trust our instincts. We lose sight of our audience as individuals with unique needs. We try to control each moment and bustle through our days and our lessons without taking the time to pause, reflect, evaluate, re-adjust. We forget to let go and….
…..trust the process.
I’m grateful to my friend and colleague for reminding me..
It was a good day…