I suppose I should reflect a little bit on the session we presented at NECC. I talked about this a little in a previous post, that we decided the night before to scrap our original plan and only "present" for 30 minutes, then have 30 minutes of conversation. It seemed to work well, and reinforced what we’ve seen in our staff development efforts at our school – that we learn the most from each other, from the conversations.
Well, it turns out that Kristin Hokanson recorded our session and then kindly uploaded it to the web, so I had a chance to listen to it. The audio quality is pretty good – I was the only one miked, but all of our voices came through pretty well and there are only 2 or 3 questions from the audience that you can’t hear very well. If you’re really interested, you can listen to it online (55 minutes) or download it (mp3, 50 MB).
If you do decide to listen to it, keep a couple of things in mind. First, there are five of us presenting. The order that we appear on the podcast is: Me (I’m miked, so you might want to turn the volume up a little after my initial part is over), then Anne Smith (Language Arts teacher), then Brad Meyer (Social Studies teacher), then Barbara Stahlhut (Math teacher), and then Brian Hatak (Science teacher). After that we are all interspersed, but hopefully you can figure out who’s who.
Second, the podcast starts two or three minutes into our session, so you miss the intro. I think it’s important to know that part before listening to the podcast, so here’s the quick version. We talked about scrapping our plans the night before and leaving more time for conversation as I mentioned above, and we let the audience know that we were counting on them to come through.
Then we talked about why we were offering this session. At NECC 2006 (which was the first any of us had attended), as well as at other conferences, we had all had the experience of seeing some amazing presenters. And while we usually came away with some good ideas, we also came away thinking, "We have no idea how they got there, or how we could get there ourselves." So it was great to get ideas, but we felt like we rarely saw a path we could follow to help our school move forward. So we wanted to give a presentation from the perspective of a school that had gone "this far" (picture me holding my thumb and forefinger about 2 inches apart) along the path. We felt like we could share some approaches that had worked for us in staff development, as well as some classroom examples of the changes we’ve made, and perhaps help others figure out how to chart their own path, to help them see how they could "get there themselves."
It’s always hard to tell (for me, anyway) exactly how well a presentation goes, but from the comments we received we appear to have at least partially succeeded (and only a few folks left before the end, which is a pretty good sign considering we had the 3:30 to 4:30 slot and the room was pretty full). I think what I like most as I listen to our presentation is that you can really hear our passion come through. Thanks Anne, Brad, Barbara and Brian – both for the presentation and for all that you do day in and day out for the teachers and students at our school.