Jul 3, 2016

It's too much! Advice to Teachers after ISTE (or any other conference you attended this summer)

Can I get an Amen! About what you say? Oh. I didn't explain.

Sometimes as teachers were pulled this way and that. We're told, you need to be doing this...you need to integrate this...no don't do that...please change that!  Ever felt that way? 

And as teachers - who are also parents, spouses, children - we sometimes feel overloaded - it's too much!  So when summer hits, we are more than ready to get a break from school.  

Then we go to conferences over the summer to learn more about integrating technology into our lesson plans...for school...which we just left...go figure. But while we're there,  we pick up all these wonderful tips and tricks that we can apply in the classroom, not to mention all the cool free resources that are out there, we may forget about those overloaded moments for a while, and we get excited about teaching again. I know that's how I felt every year when I went to ISTE (except this year - I am so kicking myself for not going, but sometimes life gets in the way.

Then we go home...we open all the bags of swag and free stuff...we settle back into our lives ....and think, "How in the world am i going to integrate all this stuff into my classroom?!?"

But don't feel overwhelmed, because while all the information overload may be getting to you, there's a way to handle it. Here are a few tips as you gather yourself up and prepare to go back for August.

1. Don't try to do everything all at once - start small.

Many people will try to take all the new resources they picked up and try to implement them all at once at the beginning of the year. That can be overwhelming, and if you haven't mastered it all, it might end in failure. Start small and pick one or two things. By introducing new tools or concepts slowly, it gives you a chance to master it, and allows you to learn from the process as much as the students do.

2. Be ok with failure.

If you try something new, don't be afraid to fail. Make your failures a teachable moment and work through failure to seek a solution. Involve your students in seeking solutions. And don't table your new idea or tool just because it didn't work. It may have just been the wrong time. Return to it at a later date after you've had a chance to reflect on the process.

3. It's not about the tool - it's about the process.

When testing out new tools, don't be tempted to try something new just for the novelty of trying out the tool. Remember to make your lesson about the standard or process you are teaching. If your new tool facilitates that process more effectively, then so be it. But centering a lesson around a tool usually ends in poor results.

4.  Don't forget to share

Remember your colleagues who were unable to attend the conference with you, and share your new insights with them. They'll appreciate the advice, and will be excited to learn what's new out there.

And finally, for those out there who were stuck at home this summer as I was, here's a short list of places you can go to take advantage of what you missed.

eSchoolNews ISTE 2016 Recap

Summarizing ISTE 2016 In Tweets

ISTE 2016 on Google Plus

ISTE 2016 Conference News

So take all the information you received - or gathered from the links above- and figure out one or two things you'd like to integrate this year. Make a plan and ask a colleague to be your guinea pig. Test out your new tool or process on your guinea pig before trying it with your kids. Good luck and get supercharged and excited about the new school year.