We’re all guilty of this. We look at the lineup of presenters and the topics offered and we immediately start planning out how we’ll spend the conference. By the time we get to Friday, we’ve flipped our classroom, become Google Drive experts, Symbalooed a whole slew of resources for your class, used all available memory on your iPad for the 200 new apps you’ve discovered, and swiped enough vendor swag from the exhibit hall that you’ll need to buy a new suitcase before you head back.
But what will Monday look like? What is your action plan? Have you developed a strategy for implementation and execution?
Here’s what’s missing from your schedule: space.
I made the mistake the first time I went to TCEA of trying to go to a full schedule of sessions. I wanted to see it all, learn it all, and meet everyone I could along the way. Big mistake. The end result of that conference was a mushy-feeling brain, a couple nights on 6th street that I don’t remember too well, and the feeling like I had seen cool stuff, but wasn’t sure how any of it would actually work in my classroom. I needed some space. What I failed to add to my schedule was time intentionally set aside to just sit and process. No additional input, no new apps, no new tweets, just time to think and strategize.
So before you head back to your district, it’s important to make a plan for Monday. What is ONE app/tool/strategy that you’ll use? How will you use it? What are the learning targets you’re hoping to achieve with that lesson? If the tech fails (as new tech is prone to do), what will your backup plan be? And maybe just as importantly, what apps/tools/strategies will you intentionally not take back with you? What are the things that, no matter how great they seem, just don’t have a natural fit for your students’ learning targets?
Schedule space into your agenda. Make time to plan and process and don’t worry about trying to remember that 200th app you downloaded. 199 is plenty.
Greg Garner is currently an Educational Technologist at Eanes ISD in Austin, TX and is our “teacher blogger on location” for the week- covering all the great events, sessions and learning happening at the TCEA Conference. Follow him on Twitter at @classroom_tech and find him at the conference to say hi in person.