Friday, March 11, 2016

Writing My Keynote

No, I haven't been asked to keynote a conference. However, after attending Todd Bloch and Heather Gauck's session titled "Finding Educator Voice" at the Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference yesterday, I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. I need to write my keynote.

I go to a lot of conferences and professional development workshops.  I'm a bit of a self-confessed PD junkie. An Edcamp in 60 miles and I am there! The conference sessions that I am drawn to are both interactive and story-driven, much like a good keynote address. They draw you in with the speaker's personal experience but leave you with a "now what," as in, "Now what are you going to do about this?" Good presentations are those that hone in on a theme and drive thinking forward by coming back to a motif that reminds the audience of that central theme. Jennie Magiera does just this when she speaks. Her keynote at the Chicago ETTSummit in 2014 connected a large group of educators both by having us interact with one another and by reminding us how we connect global for a singular purpose - empower learners.

Now I have done a lot of presentations and workshops in the last two years, over twenty presentations focused mainly on the getting students to write and create for authentic audiences.  A recurring theme in many of my presentations has been the idea of moving from engaging students to empowering learners. But many of these presentations have been how-to workshops, or at their worst they have been how-did, meaning here's how I did this. I hope that some of these presentations have been helpful for those educators in attendance, but my guess is that they may not have been very inspiring.

I need to stop thinking of my audience as teachers and begin addressing them as learners. That's what we are.  All of us who are PD junkies are just that because we love learning.  So for my next presentation, I need to reflect on how to empower and inspire the educators in the room to move to that now-what moment.  I need to present my keynote and not simply a how-to manual.

And I have an idea for my theme, something about getting out of your seat and onto your feet.  So just in case you are in need of a keynote presenter, I'll be ready.
Flickr CC image by Thomas Hawk

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