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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

TIA 2016: Guest Blogger Jennifer Gail

I just came back from TIA 2016, one of my very first teacher conferences. I know, I know, I’m just a student teacher, but I like to get a jump start on things. It was so amazing, exciting, inspiring, overwhelming, etc. The list could go on. The conference was an absolute blast and I learned a lot.

Educators, I have to say, y’all know how to throw a conference! When I went to watch George Couros’s talk the first day I was blown away! There were lights, a stage, music, the whole shebang. It was incredibly overwhelming at first. Teachers were everywhere and I knew no one – at least I didn’t see anyone I knew at Couros’s talk. I did end up seeing some friendly faces throughout the day. What I did see during his talk were educators excited about teaching and using technology to do so and that was incredibly encouraging. I hear so many negative things from teachers and professors alike. There are so many stories of teachers resisting technology and bashing on students for wanting to use it and all of the bad things that come with the use of technology.

George Couros and the teachers at that conference completely blew away the stories in my mind. I can’t remember the exact quote, but Couros mentioned at one point in his speech that technology is a tool, just like pencils, and how if a students does something bad with a pencil you don’t take it away and not give them another writing utensil. Digital citizenship is integral to our society and careers today and because of this, it’s integral to ensure we teach our students responsible digital citizenship. Sure, there will be students who try to take the whole yard when you only give them an inch, they’re students. Everyone knows that children and adolescents toe the line to see what they can get away with and for how long. That’s something everyone does with something new. We test the limits, some go overboard, and when that happens we use it as a teachable moment, a mini-lesson so to speak. He was incredibly inspiring, and I managed to snag his book AND get it signed. I cannot wait to delve into it.

Of course, I went to other talks and learned so much about Class Dojo and google classroom (which looks AMAZING), to gamifying my classroom with Albert Thomas (who seems like an amazingly awesome geek). There was so much more and I have so many ideas now that I can’t wait to delve into more and play around with.

The best thing about TIA for me was that I felt like a teacher, and that felt so right. It helped me grow my ideas and build my confidence that I can actually do what I’ve been learning about from text books for three years. It made me think that hey, maybe all of this debt isn’t too terrible a cost for what I’m about to be doing. The teachers I met and talked to, the presenters I listened to, they all helped me feel like it’s something that will be difficult but so totally worth it. And after hearing so many bad things about teaching, I was extremely grateful. All-in-all, TIA was an amazing experience that I’m so glad I have under my belt and it’s only made me even more excited than I was to being student teaching in August!

About our Guest Blogger:

Jennifer is a senior at the University of North Texas. She is working on her bachelors degree in English Language Arts and wants to teach middle schoolers.  You can read more of Jennifer's writings at her blog:  

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