A week ago I stared at the blinking curser on my screen. The curser blinked waiting for me to put the finishing touches on my session notes for Illinois Computing Educators Conference (#ICE16) that I would be speaking at.
My breath stopped. My eyes stared blindly on the screen. My thoughts began to take over …
“What if I don’t know enough about this topic.”
“What if someone knows more?”
“No one wants to hear from a Special Education teacher.”
“Real presenters don’t use notecards. Real presenters memorize their speeches.”
“Will they find value in this, even it is from a Special Education teacher?”
“Other teachers will never think this will apply to their classrooms.”
“What if someone is more of an expert on it than me?”
I froze. Minutes passed and the lies that your mind tells you when you are taking big risks looped in my head. I took a deep breath and pushed hard through the lies that were freezing me to finish my session notes.
With note cards made I spent everyday the next week, practicing my speech during my drives to and from work and at night while I made dinner.
The conference arrived.
The night before my session, I spent time reconnecting with old friends, getting to meet other friends for the first time in real life and talking and giggling and sharing our passions with each other for education. It was absolutely amazing.
Thursday arrived and it was my day. A day I had waited for for three years. My chance to present a session at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference (#ICE16). It was finally time for me to present. With my presentation set up and notecards in hand I was ready. Minutes before my session a calm came over me as I looked out at a friend in the audience who no matter what has always been there to support me. A moment before I started I was embraced by a friend and given selfless words of amazing support and encouragement from another. The session went like none I had never ever, ever experienced before.
Friday came and it would be my second run at this session. With more nerves than Thursday, seats began to fill in my session. Soon familiar smiles filled the room. Educators I call friends sat front and center, sharing words with me before I started and smiled in excitement to share this time with me. For the second time, since I had started on this journey of presenting, I felt a happiness and sense of accomplishment I had never felt before.
Three years ago I attended my very first Illinois Computing Educators Conference (#ICE16) ever. In one day this conference and the amazing educators that presented there changed
my teaching my life forever. Last week, for the second time, my teaching my life was changed again because of what I learned at this conference..
I learned that I see as a weakness others see as a unique and valuable perspective.
That we all have a unique and valuable perspective to share with each other.
I learned that we need different tools to do our best and that is ok.
I learned that “Together we are better” really really really does exist.
That education is not an individual sport. It is a team sport full of the most ridiculous and amazing teammates, willing to do incredible and thoughtful things to support their teammates.
I learned that the relationships you build with other educators on-line are just as awesome as they in person as you think they will be.
I learned that it is ok to go back up to your hotel room and call the same friend who helped talk you though all your earlier fears and cry sobbing tears as you share with her the incredible day you had.
Most of all I learned that when we speak about what we are passionate about and share our story, we will never fail!