Monday, October 19, 2015

Let's Make Conference Proposals & Interviews Better

For the last month, I've been trying to wrap my mind around how people present themselves and why they make certain choices. This was prompted by three major efforts I've been making recently: 1st, trying to hire the best of the best to our awesome EdTech team; 2nd, working on reviewing National Conference Proposals; 3rd, working on reviewing ISTE Proposals.

I've always been fascinated with being on interview panels - admittedly, few people are at their best during an interview - it's stressful, and even moreso if you really want the job. And it's even more difficult when you're applying for a position that values collaboration above all else - how do you take credit for everything on your resume and balance that with a collaborative spirit....oh, and if you could let all of that shine through in 10 or fewer questions, that'd be super.

As I'm reading Conference Proposals, I'm coming across the same thing - how do you pitch yourself and your ideas without feeling like you're a fake, borrowing off others' ideas, pitching to an audience you don't know and allowing your authentic self come through all in one, small proposal.

So I guess this is my wish and wonder - can we PLEASE change these systems???

Here's my thought (albeit not original, but needed): Make conference proposal submitters pitch their ideas via video. Let's do this. Now. And, it should include references from 1-2 colleagues who've seen you present or seen your work.

And interviews? Let's allow video conferencing in, en masse. I was nearly turned down 4 years ago for a position because I was going to be in North Dakota for the final round of interviews...I was going to be teaching in North Dakota...the very reason I would bring value to the school to which I applied was going to turn me down because I couldn't be there face-to-face. I had to call and email everyone I knew to make a plea. But I was lucky cause I know who to ask - a luxury not most can afford. Let's just level the playing field already and accept video conferencing as a common means of communication.

And all interviews should include a practicum (something I'm proud that our team already does), but a very telling part of all interviews - don't tell me what you can do, show me.

And I'm happy to say that none of these ideas are uniquely my own, nor are they ones I've kept secret.

What other changes do you think should happen with proposals or interviews? Please share in the comments...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Getting All Global-y

I attended the Global Education Day #globaled15 yesterday and continued to enjoy the connections and conversations that developed. While I have attended the Global Education Conference in the past, I've never had a chance to attend this great opportunity at ISTE...until this year.

First, BIG shout-out (again) to Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon) and Lucy Gray (@elemenous). There's nothing more energizing than meeting, working with and learning from Good People, and these two are just that: REALLY Good People.

Here's the awesome resources from the day with links to crowdsourced notes, people to follow on twitter and pretty amazing projects:

The first break-out I attended focused on Leadership, facilitated by Brandon Wiley, who authored a chapter in Leading the New Literacies. Here are some thoughts and reflections from our conversation:

  • Need for common academic language around global literacies, global competencies, etc.
  • Part of the role of a leader is to create a common vision of achievement / define the look-fors and clarity when implementing global education
  • Connecting through the heart / showing through example is the greatest motivator
    • How do we tell the stories to compel the imperative of global education (yes, is not just a luxury)
    • Global citizenship is being a global friend
  • Critical to bring in parents and school community
  • Seek the community resources out first - leverage your community to help your mission
  • #GlobalEdChat on Thur on Twitter
  • Participants who have a lot to offer (that isn't to say others did not - therse are just the names I got) :)


  • Facilitated by Deboarh Havert of and
  • Students who are coming to us without perseverance or grit - what can we do?
  • Ask students "do you think you added to the community through your actions?" 
  • Help students addres and think about intent vs. impact
  • A TED Talk Recommended: Are you Multitasking Your Life Away? Dr. Clifford Nass

While there were many tools highlighted that I'd love to explore more deeply, they are all listed in the link above (at

My favorite, though, was The Wonderment. When you open their webpage, you're met with the statement "Come on an adventure to create a world of good." Filled with fantastic resources for parents and teachers, I don't want to give too much away because I really, Really, REALLY want you to experience their website for yourself. Teachers, you can head on over to The Wonder Guides for more explicit ways to integrate this work in your classes.

And after all, aren't we all just trying to create a world of good?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

HackEd 2015 - PBL and Social Media

I attended the HackEd Unconference at ISTE yesterday and it reminded me why I'm in education. BIG shout-out to Steve Hargadon (@stevehargadon) for organizing this year after year.

The two sessions I was able to attend were one PBL, Technology and Assessment and on the use of Social Media with Students.

First observation - there was a very different, but equally passionate tenor to both groups.

PBL, Tech & Assessment

Some questions that arose in our PBL group that I'd love to get wider responses to include:

  • What strategies are being used successfully to integrate PBL with Advanced Placement classes?
  • What strategies do you use to help parents and the school community (including other teachers) to understand that, even though they/we have been successful in a sit-and-get structure of school, that's not good enough and we must do more and better now? (With an underlying understanding that PBL is one strategy to achieve this.)
Some tips and suggestions that I thought were particularly helpful included one high school English teacher who expressed that he began to integrate PBL into his class mid-year, and as such, he found that there were three things that worked for him:
  1. Start small
  2. Look for a small win first
  3. Look for and celebrate achievement in a big way from that small win
These three steps can then be built upon. Basically, scaffold the boots off it (my words, not his).

Also, Problem-Based Learning is embedded within Project-Based Learning.

Don't get bogged down in the terminology - if students are doing a kick-@ss job of 6 out of the 8 steps of Project-Based Learning, celebrate it! And then improve.

Social Media with Students

  • Social media essentially teaches global empathy - if you can do that in a way other than using social media, more power to ya!
  • We need to empathize with teachers who are reticent to use social media with students and not ostracize nor shame them - that runs counter-intuitive to the whole point of building connections via social media. Don't be a hypocrite.
  • There are different legal ramifications and ears on the parts of teachers and technical staff, and it is imperative that we have cross-departmental/branch teams to help everyone get to a common understanding and feel as though they have a voice.

After all, learning is social, and if we're making choices in isolation, we're not really learning anything at all, are we?

* When referring to Project-Based Learning, I'm referring to Buck Institute of Education's PBL Model - the bible of PBL, so to speak.

Back in the Saddle's been nearly two years since I blogged last. Since I'm at ISTE and already have too many ideas swirling already (for those who are #notatiste15, it hasn't even officially begun, but the pre-networking opportunities are so rich), now's as good a time as any to get back on the proverbial wagon. So with that...