My Journey to EdmodoCon 2014 and Back
Posted by: Sheryl Place
Wow, I am back from a whirlwind trip spanning the United States from Miami, Florida, to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and finally the Edmodo headquarters in San Mateo, California. With 3,108 miles and countless memories collected along the way, I am back in Miami, ready to become a cliff diver* for the 2014-2015 school year, which starts in about two weeks.
This journey wasn’t necessarily an easy one (figuratively or literally), but I must say, I wouldn’t change any part of it. I am still exhilarated and excited about what I have done and what the future holds for me.
Laying my story out “there” for everyone—all 44,000 EdmodoCon registrants—isn’t necessarily me. Two words often used to describe me are “outgoing” and “sassy,” and as much as I might agree with those descriptions, I typically share my teaching practices (the successes and the failures) with just my school PLC and don’t consider sharing my practices with others. So, participating and presenting at EdmodoCon 2014 was truly a professional growth exercise for me. And like most exercise, the strenuous, difficult, and painful work led to marvelous results and personal growth.
It was Hayley Craig from Edmodo who first encouraged me to talk about what I was doing in my 9-12 grade ESOL classroom at Miami Killian Senior High School. I started small, sharing my practices during an Edmodo Teachers’ Lounge webinar, then saw the call for presenters for Edmodocon 2014.
The email sat staring, blinking at me for over a week from my inbox. Each time I opened my email, there it was, shyly waiting for me to take action. Would the delete button relegate EdmodoCon to the trash bin? I pondered that idea, then late at night, I put on my big girl polo and dove in. My son helped me create my video and before I could chicken out, I sent it off with my proposal. I really didn’t think about it much after that, because I was busy with closing out school activities. Then one day, the familiar ding of my inbox brought the news: I was a SEMIFINALIST.
Twitter blew up with all my messages! I was so excited. I promoted myself shamelessly. I was jumping around the house, my son was dancing, the dogs were barking. Success. I had hit the big time! The positive affirmation that what I do has value was really good enough for me. Edmodo was speaking my language of love.
But wait, there’s more! Two short weeks later, I received the message YOU’RE IN! Suddenly, my excitement was replaced with, “What have I done?!?” Panic set in. Now, it was time to create an awesome presentation that had validity and merit.
I struggled with that presentation because even though I said I dove in, I became a doomsday prepper* with it. I struggled with slide transitions, the number of words on each slide, the analysis of the work I was facilitating with my students, the font size, the images, the backgrounds. (Whew! I’m still get exhausted just thinking about it.)
Then I practiced. My poor cat had to listen to the presentation countless times. Ask anyone at EdmodoCon about my presentation binder! I wanted this presentation to really examine my practices and share them in a meaningful with others. In the long run, I believe I created something that represented my classroom and the joy I have entering it every day.
August 6, 2014: Edmodocon 2014. This was a full day of online professional development, which began with a welcome by Nic Borg. Nathan Garvin, Val Knauer, and Steve Johnson were just some of the other presenters in the morning session along with me. I sensed the nervous tension of each presenter (myself included), but once I began to talk about my classroom and my students, the 44,000 registrants disappeared. I found joy in presenting my students’ work, sharing their voices, and connecting with an international audience about Edmodo and the difference it made in my teaching practice.
After my presentation came to a conclusion, I took a minute to sense the significance of what I had just done. I faced my fear, shared my practice with others, and they embraced my message! I was filled with emotion and felt so lucky to be a connected with other Edmodo colleagues and EdmodoCon viewers.
I ended my presentation with the question, “Where will your journey take you?” Today, I am looking forward to continuing mine. I hope you’ll join me, so we can work together to transform our teaching on Edmodo, where learning happens.
* Thank you to EdmodoCon 2014 presenter, Nathan Garvin, for these words