As teachers, how many times have we sat in professional development and listened to an educational consultant tell us what would work with our students? They bring all kinds of pretty data, display boards and all sorts of testimonials, but for some reason their presentations usually do not move me, or other teachers. Many of my fellow teachers may call it “classroom snobbery”, but I only want to hear from fellow (or former) teachers about what actually works in a classroom like mine”.
I want to know that the person presenting to me understands what it is like to have a classroom full of students who come with all types of social and academic issues. There’s a certain camaraderie that comes when I know that a person has been a teacher and understands the daily struggles we go through. So when I have the chance to listen to a presentation from a classroom teacher it always warms my heart becauseI know they get it.
As The Educator’s Room begins to work with teachers expanding their brands and honing in on their expertise, it is imperative that teachers take the opportunity to present about their area(s) of expertise. Every day we get in front of our classrooms and present in front of our 30 plus students, but sometimes we need to take our expertise out of the laboratory of the classroom and into the people who desperately need it, other teachers. Many teachers are struggling with a variety of topics unique to their classrooms and want to speak to other professionals that may have strategies that can immediately help them. Nine times out of ten teachers would prefer to hear about what worked for a fellow classroom teacher than a big name publisher!
This past year, I had the opportunity to work extensively with a new teacher who was terrified of working in an urban environment as a new teacher. She had recently graduated from student teaching, but she did not feel comfortable with being in a classroom by herself. At the beginning of the year, she came to a presentation I gave about supporting new teachers and with the resources and strategies I gave her, she was able to make it through her first year in the classroom. Through email and phone conversfations, I helped coach her through some of her more difficult times like dealing with irate parents, writing unit plans and creating quality assessments. Without her seeing a veteran teacher present about strategies to support new teachers, her first year may have been a lot worse.
If you are ready to take your expertise out of the classroom, how can you find ways to present? Use these five steps for finding avenues to help hone your presentation skills and build further on your confidence in presenting your expertise.
1. Apply to present at area/national conferences. At almost every education conference, there are opportunities for teachers to submit proposals to present. Whether the audience is large or small, it is always a good idea to apply to present your workshop proposal because it allows you to experience an audience of adults versus an audience of children. Presenting to a diverse audience will give teachers the chance to perfect their presentation and open their realm of influence.
I first presented at back in 2005 at a national conference in New York state. It was a great experience because for the first time I was able to interact with other professionals who asked me questions about my craft and how I could translate my success in their classroom. Ever since then, I’ve made it a point to apply to present at one conference per school year. To find potential conferences I recommend Googling the key words ” education conference proposals” and just taking a couple of hours to research your options. For example, for The Educator’s Room Annual Conference in February 2016 our theme is “Empowering Educators to be the Experts” and we want teachers to be the majority of presenters. To help teachers brainstorm proposals, we selected four strands that presentations can be about and we’ve received proposals from people all over the world! As teachers think about presenting proposals do not be scared– you are the expert!
2. Suggest school building professional development opportunities. There’s a secret that many teachers do not know or realize, most school level administrators hates to present during PLC or faculty meeting. Unfortunately most teachers hate when they present about strategies to help teachers. Instead, teachers would much rather prefer for these meetings to be “teacher-led” so that the information does not feel like a directive. So what does this mean for your brand? Suggest professional development opportunities that you (or you co-workers) could lead! This is a perfect opportunity for teachers as the classroom experts to present on a topic that your school desperately needs.
Working in an urban school, I’ve presented on topics ranging from classroom management to how to create authentic assessments. For most schools, this is the end the year- a perfect time to brainstorm some presentation ideas and present them to your school administrator this summer for possible opportunities in the Fall!
3. Apply to present at district level professional development opportunities. I’ve always worked in a large district that usually has large, district-wide professional development several times throughout the year. In the past, I’ve sent emails out to the Director of Instruction and Curriculum proposing workshops and luckily that has given me the opportunity to present on everything from the Common Core to tools in helping with writing. It can be nerve-racking to present to both your colleagues and people throughout the district, but it will prepare you as a professional for presenting on a larger stage in your career. Many times, I’ve found that most teachers are excited to see one of “them” presenting instead of someone from the district office or even worse a big publishing company!
4. Record your expertise on YouTube or Vimeo. In this age of social media, tools like YouTube and Vimeo can help regular classroom teachers become one person professional development experts. If you like the idea of creating short (2-5 minutes) videos on your area of expertise, it is easier than you think. Set up a video in your classroom and demonstrate your skill as the camera is rolling. If you are going to film your students (of course) you have to get your parents and schools permission, but there’s also the option of just recording yourself on your planning period. Do not be shy– you have 180 days of practice.
5. Start or write for an already established blog/ website. There are thousands of education sites around the web and it would help your brand if you could find one that will give you a voice for your niche. Having your words available on a platform that will establish you as an expert is priceless. Here at The Educator’s Room, we’re always looking for educators that consider themselves experts in the classroom. Click here to find out how you can write for us!
As teachers pack up their classrooms for the summer, they need to understand that their varied experiences can help new and experienced teachers across the world. Take some time and brainstorm the ways you can present about your expertise! Now comment below and tell me how you’re going to develop a presentation for a professional development opportunity!
To read our first book, Teacher Branding 101: Teachers are The Experts, and our follow up Teacher Branding: The Time is Now.
Join me at NCTE 2015as I present on “The Carnivals of Truth: Rainbow Perspectives on Critical Issues in ELA”.