Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#T21Con- My Reflection

The College of Education at Illinois State University hosted their annual Teaching in the 21st Century  Conference (T21Con) just over two weeks ago on Friday, September 18. It's been a crazy time since then so it took me a pretty long time to get this reflection posted- but better late than never! Let me start by saying that this is the fifth year the conference has happened and the third year in a row that I have presented. While I can honestly say that I loved each year of the conference- this year was above and beyond the rest. There was such a great energy on Friday that it was hard to miss the excitement in the air. Unfortunately, I didn't get to take many pictures- but I did follow the #T21Con hashtag on Twitter and stole some really great snippets from the day.

And I think it's important to note that if I sound super gushy and proud as I type this, it's because I graduated from ISU in 2008, along with my husband, and I absolutely love the place. It holds a super special place in my heart and I can't possibly write a post about ISU without mentioning how great it is. Peter (my husband) and I met at ISU and as teachers, it prepared and set our lives on a fantastic path. Fun fact: The conference took place in the Bone Student Center on ISU's campus- and in that student center they have the Braden Auditorium. Why is this a fun fact? Because Peter and I named our first born Brayden- a tip of the hat to our alma mater. We also named our second child, a girl, Olive- which is the name of a street in downtown Bloomington.  Cheesy- yes. Proud of our alma mater- yes, yes, yes.

So onto the conference. It opened up with the best keynote that I've seen so far at #T21Con- an amazing moment with Kevin Honeycutt. Now I had seen Kevin Honeycutt give a keynote before- he was our keynote speaker at iEngage Berwyn last May- but this is the best, by far, that I have ever seen him. He was funny, motivational, inspirational, and emotional all at the same time and it was the perfect audience for him. I've never been in a room of people so impacted by a person speaking before and it was the perfect start to a conference dedicated to learning. 

After the keynote it was time to prepare for our presentation. I say "our" presentation because this was the very first co-presentation that Peter and I have done together. As I mentioned, I have presented at this conference twice before- both on my own with the topics of Going Paperless in the 21st Century Classroom and Using Technology to Improve Reading Instruction. Peter has also presented by himself, last year, with the topic of Classrooms of the 21st Century. So this was a big deal for us. I present my two sessions often and I just wanted something new- and I wanted to present with Peter since we both share the same passion for the field of education and I knew that if we both got in front of an audience- the results would be amazing.

With that said, our new presentation, debuted at #T21Con, was Educator Expectations in the 21st Century Classroom. This is a presentation that we made specifically for this conference with pre-service and new teachers in mind. We set out with the mission to help new teachers by (a) making them aware of the changes that are happening in the field of education and (b) giving them the confidence and motivation to conquer the ever-changing educational climate. We wanted to convey the message to never, ever stop learning- and I think we did just that. Our presentation focused on four parts- (1) Creating your PLN (personal learning network) (2) Using Social Media in the Classroom (3) Digital Communication with Parents and (4) Becoming a Lifelong Learner. Note that the last part there isn't creating a lifelong learner in the student- but becoming a lifelong learner yourself. This, we think, is the key to being a successful teacher and I think we did a great job at conveying that to our audience.  Below are some tweets that a fellow D100 friend sent out during our session:

I'm also going to include some tweets sent out after our presentation- all of which I love seeing that we made a positive impact on the conference!

Anytime you get a shout out from Kevin Honeycutt- it's a good day!

The fact that we got this aspiring teacher to create a twitter and get started on her lifelong learning journey is amazing! Mission accomplished!

We love our College of Education crew and so for them to give us this shout out was so sweet- anytime we can help or lend a hand- let us know!

Last up, a super cute selfie of Peter and I during our friend Mike Saracini's TouchCast presentation- who also did a very wonderful job at inspiring the crowd. It was definitely an informative session that left all the attendees in awe- there were definitely lots of exciting whispers happening in the crowd as he spoke. It was pretty cool. Plus it gave Peter and I the chance to decompress after our session and learn something new from a friend.

Coming up next week will be my reflection from the Illinois Reading Council Conference- where I will be this week on Thursday 10/1 and Friday 10/2.


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