07 March 2010
The Big Show
About this time last year, I tossed my hat in the ASCD Conference ring. It was not the first time that I had applied to present, but this was the first time my presentation was accepted. And since finding out that last July that I had made the cut, I have looked forward to today. Whether or not it's true, I have always looked at ASCD as The Big Show. This is the premier conference in education. It's where the experts come out to play. While I do not consider myself an expert, I do believe that I have things to share and can do it in a meaningful way. I like working with teachers.
The shot above was from my vantage point about 10 minutes before the official start of my session. And just like NSTA last year, they had to close the doors and declare the room full prior to my scheduled start time. We had at least 200 people in a room that had been scheduled for 160 (and I had prepared only 150 copies of my handout). This was far and away the largest group I have ever presented to and it was such an adrenaline rush that two hours later, I still have some butterflies and shakes. They were an amazing crowd to be with: fantastic energy.
I took my new powerpoint out for a test drive. I liked its look and flow, but I also tried to squeeze in too much for the 90 minutes. I had to rush a bit at the end. I think the other part of that was simply the size of the crowd. Getting 200 people to start and stop their conversations takes time, especially when the discussion is so rich. I will have to rethink things a bit if I have another opportunity like this.
Overall, feedback was positive. I had several people talk to me after the presentation to thank me and tell me how much they liked the session. ASCD has limited (as in 10) evaluations for each session and I was provided with a copy of each as I left. I scored all 3's and 4's and all but one "Yes" in terms of interest in learning more and attending a PD Institute on the topic. In terms of written comments, the most common theme was that they thought I had great technology skills. I used PollEverywhere and showed them my Delicious site and grading wiki. This was also the first time I put my blog and twitter handle next to my real name. It's a transition point for me.
Someone wrote that this was "one of the best presentations I have attended so far---articulate, knowledgeable, even-handed, informative." No negative comments, but a wish for "more examples on standards-based report cards and information on whether they improve student achievement." Point well taken, I think. It is something else I need to work on. I had one person ask me if there were any more evaluations because this was one session that she really wanted to give ASCD feedback about (in a good way). It was a very sweet thought.
On a personal note, I was delighted to have some friends in the room. One was someone I used to work with when I was in the Assessment division. She was a great help with handouts today and helped me celebrate afterward. There was also a science coach I worked with last year (total surprise to see him at the conference). I also met Joe Wood, whose blog I have enjoyed for awhile and have gotten to know a bit through Twitter and Facebook.
I feel like I can relax now (once the adrenaline rush wears off). Tomorrow is the final day of the conference. I am looking forward to the chance to continue to learn with others before folding up my tent and heading home.