You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All The Time


You can try though. And we did. And we’ll do it again on May 28, 2009 for the next Google Learning Institute at the CMSCE, Rutgers University.


There are a few things that we will plan to do differently. It’s tough to say since the feedback was positive, yet the participants were of two skills sets. (Compare the three comments.)


I’ve had a few days to reflect on last Thursday’s GLI and the discussion that GCTs Erica Hartman, Kern Kelley, Jesse Spevack and I had afterward. I also read the evaluations several times and look forward to speaking with Mark Wagner about moving forward with a possible third GLI this summer. I’ve spent the weekend thinking about the 110% effort I give towards my preparation for a professional development event and that I expect when I go to experience someone else’s presentation I have rather high expectations.
Here’s some PD thoughts  I’d like to share:

  1. Describe your event accurately and stick to the description.
  2. Make sure when you prepare for PD that you have materials that accommodate every level of user. Have some step-by-step literature available as well as resources for delving deeper into the topic.
  3. Prepare for every type of learner. Try to provide printed materials, digital copies of those materials, video tutorial links and additional reading resources as well as any other relevant data you can provide.
  4. It’s always better to have too much prepared than too little.
  5. Make sure you come with a feeling of flexibility so that when technical issues arise, you can go to plan B. (Let’s face it: Have a Plan C and D as well.)
  6. Make sure you take an extra dose of patience with your morning coffee so that you don’t get frustrated with the attendees. They haven’t seen the presentation ten times like you have. They may need more time than you planned.
  7. You may think you are the expert in the room, but always plan that there is someone in the room who knows more than you do. Invite that person to contribute to the presentation. (This will work out nicely for you should you come across something you don’t know or that has changed since the last time you saw it ie. an updated version of software.)
  8. Thank everyone for attending your session / workshop and give them your contact information. The PD doesn’t have to end when the timer rings. Encourage your attendees to take a look at your social bookmarks, subscribe to your blog or follow you on Twitter. Go ahead, give them your e-mail. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

I really do read the comments that people leave on evaluations. I try to adjust and improve my work based on those comments. Please leave a comment if I’ve left something off this list – we’d only benefit from it. Thanks!

Pictures from the 3/26/09 Google Learning Institute
Pictures from the 3/26/09 Google Learning Institute

9 thoughts on “You Can’t Make Everyone Happy All The Time

  1. Great advice for presenters. It is extremely difficult to meet the needs of an unknown audience, especially when you realize early on that you have a very diverse group from opposite ends (beginner/true novice to expert). My last preso at SCEdTech was like that. I had a 3 hour session, so after realizing this, I changed game plans a bit, explained my plan to the group, saying we would do a rapid pace for about an hour and fifteen, take a break, and then SLOW down and let the needs of the audience members guide us. I announced anyone who did not want to stay after the hour fifteen were welcome to bail. I cringe at what the eval would have looked like, but the 2/3rds that remained had high compliments (in person–do they count?) My next presentation was a hands on one, and I asked novices to scout out their peers who were more experienced, and then sit grouped so there was a balance in the groups. This worked much better–though I still had a few pockets of true novices and then pockets of true experts–the nonconformists–there are some of these in every crowd too. Still it was a significantly better session, and I can at least say I definitely enjoyed it more.

    1. Thanks for sharing Cathy! I think in-person feedback counts. But in my experience, it’s always positive and you leave the place on a high.
      Then later you get to read what the people that didn’t feel the love had to say. (Had there been any.)

      I love the fact that you were willing to be so flexible, communicate with your group, accommodate their needs and still manage to reach your objectives. These are all signs of a truly great presenter – and educator. I knew there was something I really liked about you!! 🙂

  2. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your insights from the day’s events.

    It’s been my experience that types of presentations can be particularly challenging since they are generally about personal learning, professional learning, conceptual learning, skills acquisition, and, well, change, all wrapped up into one tiny package of intense sessions. In one day.

    I really appreciate your open reflections on the GLI. The message it sends to me is that you and CMSCE take your own learning seriously as individual educators and as a learning community.

    Now I’m even more excited about attending the next GLI!

    1. Caren, you have me thinking about the question “What do you want to get out of today’s session?”
      I do sometimes ask this and jot down notes to make sure I try to cover specific requests as I go through the day.
      Yet, I don’t think that I have ever followed up with closure at the end of a session asking whether the attendees got what they wanted, specifically. – – I need to work on that!!

      I’m looking forward to seeing you at the GLI in May. It’s too bad that it took from last November for us to cross paths again.

  3. Fil says:

    Lisa, Thanks for the reflection. I thought the group did a nice job of presenting the content. By the way, there were moments were the questions deviated from the topic and you smoothly redirected — thank God! LOL In the end, it’s like you said, “You can please everyone.”

    1. Thanks Fil. It was nice to have you as part of the now infamous “Peanut Gallery”. I think I have proof that Erik was throwing the Sweet Tarts if you look through the Flickr pics.

      Lets make sure to meet up in Second Life soon.

  4. Lisa,
    Your reflection speaks volumes about your level of professionalism. Using feedback to build on future trainings can only benifit the presenters and participants. Thanks you for sharing the feedback. The GLI was a wonderful professional learning exprience for me. By the end of the day my brain was on overload with information and ideas for uses. Will be picking your brain soon.


  5. Anthony D says:

    Hello all,
    I think the presentation was very informative considering the time we had available to us. The only way I can see making this better is to have a second day where more specifics are covered, maybe give more classroom examples. I also think when we sign up and fill out the form for the class with our Google account information we should be surveyed on what we already know. Maybe we could rate our level of expertise using the various products so the presentation could be altered to meet those needs. I had a pretty good working knowledge of how to use many of the products we covered but I was looking for ways to implement them in the classroom and maybe how I could get others to embrace this and other technologies. It’s a shame more teachers aren’t aware of the various uses these and many other technology tools have in the classroom (but that’s a topic for another thread).

    Does anyone know when there will be another Google Teachers Academy in the NY/NJ area?

    – Mr. D

  6. Hi Lisa,

    Based on your blog post and some current staff development efforts I wanted to be sure the right people sign up for the Google Workshop for Educators. I thought I would try and be clear about what we are looking for. I used this to help clarify what we were looking for…some people will sign up for anything.

    We are looking for creative participants (eager beginners to advanced) that have a desire to build on current skills and integrate relevant technology into the classroom. Participants should have a desire to collaborate online with other educators from the workshop and help support each other with questions and successes. Participants should bring their own ideas and be willing to look at big picture when pace is fast and dive into the relevant details during time set aside for application.


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