Emily is a 6th year teacher at Flemington Primary School in Melbourne. She is passionate about improving the use of Digital Technologies in schools to support and redefine learning, and to equip students to be 21st Century Learners. She also loves flamingos and things that are stripy. You can follow her adventures in teaching on twitter @mrsfint and read her blog mrsfintelmanteaches.global2.vic.edu.au/
A little nudge from a mentor pushed me into presenting at Digicon15. It was panic-inducing, stressful and completely terrifying. It was also ultimately rewarding and so much fun!
Why should I present?
I would never have considered myself the kind of teacher that would present at a conference. I have often felt that while I am proud of my teaching, I am not doing anything outstanding compared to most teachers and don’t have any kind of specialised knowledge.
It’s this kind of thinking that gets us all into trouble. We all think that we are doing okay in our little classroom bubble but are not confident to share it. This is where teachers fall down. We don’t share enough, we don’t discuss, we don’t celebrate our great practices together, we don’t support each other’s great ideas. Because of the nature of the job, there is no one right way to do things. This means we need to share and listen and try new things until we find out what works for us and our students.
The process: I’m a fraud!
At first, and indeed, throughout the whole process, I felt like I was an imposter in the world of brilliant pedagogues and educational royalty. You might be surprised, as I was, to find out that all these people are just regular people who work hard at their job and are committed to learning more about, and teaching others, how to improve education. It turned out that I fit into that category too.
Going into the application and afterwards presentation preparation, I felt nervous and uncertain about my expertise, but as I prepared my workshop with my co-presenter, I gained more confidence in the depth of my knowledge in this area and realised I could share something new.
As we put together our presentation, we designed it in the way that we like to learn new things – with real examples from our own real classrooms, and with time for participants to practise the new skills and have a play before their brains got overloaded with all the other amazing ideas they would hear later that day.
What the experience was like
I loved the experience from a networking point of view. DTLV provides support on your presentation by way of online hangouts with other people in your stream. This is a great way to get to know others, talk through your plans and get some feedback. They also provide an organiser so you have a go-to person on the inside.
We picked the first presentation slot of the conference to rip off the bandaid. I had never been to Digicon before and didn’t know what to expect – I didn’t want to see other amazing presentations first and start questioning my own.
Doing the presentation was easy – we were well prepared, knew our stuff, were in control of the shaky voices and (I hope) had designed an entertaining session. For most people, what we were doing was new to them, so the question time wasn’t intimidating like I thought it would be – they were just regular questions from regular teachers wanting to get their heads around new concepts. We got lots of positive feedback afterwards, which confirmed that what we presented on was valuable to our audience.
Since the big day, I have presented a couple of times at various events, and have grown in confidence in my own skills, both in teaching and in presenting. Myself and my co-presenter were asked to write a journal article and I am working on another to be published this year. I have developed a wider PLN and now feel like I have a larger wealth of knowledge to draw from outside of my own school. Being part of Digicon also opened my eyes to the expanding range of jobs available, in and out of schools, for teachers in the area of Digital Technologies, and it was especially powerful for me to see and meet women in these positions.
My advice if you’re thinking about presenting
If you think you’re doing something really well, it’s likely you have something valuable to share with others who haven’t done it yet.
– Put an abstract together. Get your thoughts onto paper. Don’t be intimidated by the fancy sounding abstracts that you read in last year’s conference journal – they probably all sounded shoddy in their first draft.
– In the meantime, try presenting at a Teachmeet, a network meeting or even a staff meeting in your own school – you will be able to practise your presentation and iron out the kinks.
If you think you’re onto something cool, I really encourage you to jump outside your comfort zone, try something new, submit an expression of interest, and share, share, share!