Comfort Zones

roseLiz Davis and I presented three workshops together this past week at BLC. The first is one we have done many times together and separately, it comes as second nature to us at this point. The second workshop I developed almost a year ago, we just worked together to select the ed tech leaders we would showcase and who would talk about who. The third workshop was developed originally by Liz and is out of my comfort zone. This is the second time we have led it together and each time attendees have responded well and have seemed to really enjoy the activities, but in the hours and days leading up the the session, I definitely wasn’t into it. (And Liz called me on it the morning of the presentation.)

So, as I sat on the long train ride back to New Jersey sans wireless, I thought about some of the situations that take me out of my comfort zone. I thought maybe this might be a time in my life that I should face some of them and challenge myself to move past some of the more trivial ones. Perhaps, if I am feeling bold, I might even consider trying to overcome the more complicated challenges as well.

As we went to dinner each night in groups, some large and some small, I commented on the fact that I had never dined alone in a restaurant. My companions asked if I had ever been to a movie by myself, another trip I have yet to make solo and I realized that though I rather enjoy having alone time, it is usually in the privacy of my own house.

I prefer to sit either in the front or the back of a room. The details of left or right are irrelevant, what is important to me is that I am aware of who is around me and when I have people both in front of me and in back of me I find it distracting. (Not that there aren’t ten other things going on to distract me anyway.)

So, back to this last session that Liz and I led at BLC. It was the last slot of the last day. “Goal! Define Your Goals and Leverage Your Network to Achieve Them!” was how we intended conference attendees to leave BLC with a plan in place on how to achieve one of their goals and who was going to help them. Here’s some of the goals set by the attendees:

@Dunningk – I want to do a monthly vlog and post it to our website.

@shadowg – Send the tweet to all BA students and faculty.  Few people respond with ideas.  A few faculty send message not to tweet them, very upset with me.  Ideas from students start to form.  Block the upset faculty/students.  Students now are building ideas presented and working with the librarians and other students, such as podcasts, videos of how to, book suggestions,  library makeover ideas……

@nicolesandburn – I hope to start a wiki/blog/podcast for my French and Spanish class

@trinapaynter – I want to create technology playground days (workshops) for teachers to try out new technology tools.

@analogurl – Implementation of Scratch into Elementary school curriculum, to promote student engagement, collaboration, critical thinking, etc.

Well, after thinking about some of the trivial goals above and having all that downtime on the train (as many of you sat in airports), I have come up with these three goals for myself:

  1. I’d like to begin playing music – quiet, soothing music, as teachers are involved in hands-on activities in PD events. I saw this two times in different forms at BLC and I think it is rather successful for some learners.
  2. I plan on increasing the amount of time I have PD attendees out of their seats. This may also bring many out of their comfort zones, but so many educators at BLC complimented Liz and I on the fact that we get folks up and around the room, that I’d like to bring this practice into more of my typical PD.
  3. This is the toughest challenge for me. I’m going to ask educators to try some free writing in my sessions. I typically encourage attendees to multitask during a workshop and as we work together, feel free to check e-mail, Facebook, whatever they would typically do while they would use the computer at home. But, during this time, I would encourage attendees to put everything else aside and focus on visualizing our group goal and writing about it.

I took so much away from the four days I spent in Boston. I will be posting more soon, but I figured documenting my goals was a good place to start.

5 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

  1. Those are fantastic goals for sure! I hate nothing at a workshop, seminar, or conference more than a “site and get” presentation! I have made this my goal too for the last few presos, and I must say it works. The participants feel charged and better, more in charge of their learning.

    To involve the writing element, you could try a google form with open ended questions–call it a free write type session eval. Ask for honest opinions, frank constructive criticisms, and what was good, bad, missing, or could be done to improve a future session. Not all will give you complete feedback, but it does grease the wheels for reflection, and best, you get something out of it too.

    Music during participants activities is a fantastic idea. I sort of learned how to use music in lesson plans when we had an artist in residence–Sean Layne–who was absolutely fantastic! He used music for instructional sequences AND independent work (for groups and individuals.) He made me realize how soothing and thought provoking music could be in a classroom. He taught the entire fourth grade teachers at a school I was at an effective basic classroom management technique that involved music. WONDERFUL and I was impressed–he did it with the worst class in the building. Look him up.

    Great post–thanks for sharing. (I didnt mean for my comments to be so long!)

  2. Thanks for the support and the link Cathy.

    We have an eval that I have to use for the Center that I work for, but I like the idea of using the Google Form for the free write if that fits with the audience. If not, there’s always paper and pencil, right?

    Too long? No. I truly appreciate you taking the time to help me out.

  3. I was at this workshop, and I wanted to let you know that it was the perfect way to end the conference. I like your third goal, in particular. Even though we didn’t have a lot of time for the free write during the workshop, I really liked it. It felt like there was a surge of energy and focus in the room as we envisioned achieving our goals. e-mail and Twitter can wait for five minutes. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for coming and sharing your goals with us Charlie. Liz pushes me to try new things and for that I am thankful. I even found that @trinapaynter has the knowledge to help me with my daughter’s vegetable garden.

      I appreciate your feedback.

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