On risk-taking and conferences

What have I done!?!?

Just got word that our (@mrsfadeji, @LS_Karl, @pronovost and I) presentation was accepted for the Leadership 3.0 Symposium in April in San Mateo.  That along with three other recent opportunities… I’m a bit overwhelmed, honored, excited and nervous. It’s like Public Speaking 101 (wasn’t that a requirement for college freshman?).   I’m a newbie elementary principal… I love using technology to enhance student learning and make our lives simpler but I’m certainly not an expert.  Our little staff at Grant School is used to my style, my way… and they’re super polite when I blunder.  Now it’s strangers, people I respect, colleagues, and mentors…

My friend @McTeach invited me to participate in the #ebcue Cool Tools event (February 2014) when we last saw one another–#edcampMarin (I think).  Sure.  Why not.  And the ball started rolling from there.

Then a little friendly #edunudge from Karl got the #svcue (March 2014) preso rolling… and Lead 3.0 was the brainchild of Amy… and Google in Napa (January 2014) was my own doing… so here we are.

I’m really nervous.  In Costa Mesa recently, David Theriault (@davidtedu) finished up his presentation on student blogging with a quip along these lines, “Hope that worked for you.  This was my first presentation to a paying audience.”  I would have never known.  He was personable, student-focused, well-paced and 100% relevant.

I’ve joked with friends…. I don’t care what the session title is, I’m going to the people I know do a good job–whatever they’re talking about will be worth my while.  Is that true?  Fair?

I think it is true.  Fair–maybe not.  But a good speaker makes all the difference.  Sort of like teaching, right?  Exactly like teaching.  If you can hold the audience, bring them into your subject, engage and enhance their intellect, ability and knowledge, you’re golden.  And the topic just won’t matter–gardening, algebra, washing windows.  It won’t matter.

So I’m really nervous.  I know what it’s like to sit through a session being polite.  I do that less and less as an attendee but it’s tough to leave a room empty.  On the flip side, I want people to leave if I’m not what they need, if my 2 cents doesn’t fit their situation, if my pace/style/level of knowledge isn’t right.  I want them to make a good choice.

And I get prepared.  I pull up all the quality aspects to presentation I’ve experienced.  And the not-to-do bits as well (so as to avoid at all costs).

I’m taking a risk.  It gets my blood pumping.  I’m excited.

And as David shared, this will be my first paying audience.  Does that make a difference?  #edcamp is arguably as (or more) valuable than a paid conference.  District and site trainings here in #petk12 are valuable learning opportunities.  These are things I’ve done… at our local level, many, many times.  I get nervous; I think that’s natural.  But this really feels different.

Warning: Going to sound a bit sappy here.

I believe it is vital that we share what we do and know.  If others didn’t share with me, where would I be?  Floundering alone, a silo of struggle.  With others, I consistently get better.  Floundering still happens but I’m a silo no longer.  I’m a network.  And if I now know something that will help the next person, I am obligated to share.  Obligated sounds harsh but I chose that word with intention.  We are not growing as individuals if we only take.  We take and we give.  In equal measure.

So I’ve arrived at a professional crossroads where I feel I can begin to give as a result of  all that’s been shared with me.  I’m excited.  And super nervous.

Here’s to risk-taking in 2014!

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