Before coming to this year's conference, I can honestly say that I did not want to hear more about apps. I did not want to hear about the newest and latest website, app, or even tool. My main goal for this year's conference was to see how can we leverage the tools we already have and truly embed them into great instruction. I also wanted to see more content presented and presenters modeling the instruction of content with the technology tools. One of my fellow Vanguardians said it best: "Reinforce your foundation. Tech crumbles all around weak pedagogy." It was for this reason I made it my mission to design a session that was going to focus on pedagogy. The need for teachers to see how to implement tools into instruction seamlessly is imperative. Also it must be recognize that even while at a technology conference, every teacher is not on the same level with their comfortability and familiarity with technology tools.
Even though I was very critical of myself during my presentation, I recognize that many educators took away the point of needing to develop your content knowledge. My session was not design to show you 50 apps you can use in math to help you solve problems (though I do think maybe a few thought that this is what the session was designed for). The session was designed with the intention of showing how to introduce your essential question, giving students a tasks, allowing them to think through the task, for the teacher to serve as a facilitator, and using higher ordered instructional strategies to help promote constructivism in a classroom. Furthermore, the goal was to show how students can collaborate with others, promote critical thinking, communicate, and use creativity. While being critical of myself, I think my session proved those things. We used the technology only to enhance what we were already doing.
Other big takeaways from GaETC15 was learning how to truly coach others as well as how personalized learning should look and the steps it takes to get there (thank you Stephanee, Heather, and Jessica). I learned even more the value in networking (and no it is not to get a new job). You learn how to become a better educator and a better person; which provides the chance for your students to be even more successful. I had a conversation with a few people who want to move up in their careers. My response became do not become someone who wants to just move up to get out of the classroom. Move up because you want to make a great change for students and your purpose is going to cause things to change for the better. But the greatest takeaway from the past few days: You have to get out of your bubble, tell your story (rather it is by joining Twitter, talking to other teachers, blogging, etc.), and be a contributor to the conversations that are occurring. After all, you have a voice. You MATTER!