Serbia – September 2019

I was lucky enough to present at another Google Summit for Apps Events. This time the summit was in Belgrade, Serbia and I got to present not one but four sessions. I think that this is also the first time that I have attended one of these summits with a colleague. This was fabulous because it gave me the chance to watch her grow her Google skills and comfort level!

Even before it starts I find that there are things I love about these summits.

  • They are well organized while at the same time they feel spontaneous and adaptive.
  • The people who work them are awesome to be around and interact with they are also encouraging and motivating
  • The summits are a chance to meet up with other Google super Geeks and Geek out!

I ended up presenting four sessions during this summit after one of the other presenters was unable to attend and I was asked to present more. I presented twice on Google Sites, once on Google Drive Basics and once on Google Keep. This particular summit was mostly for the International School of Belgrade teachers, but there were a few other educators and tech folks from other schools who attended as well. It does help to have teachers from other schools join as it means that a wider range of questions gets asked. They also share ideas and things that they have done in their schools, which always adds to the experience.

These summits are great for educators who want to see and hear about real ways that the G Suite is being used in the classroom. That is why they are so well received. Even though this is my 3rd Summit I learned some trick, tip or new technique to use right away when I return to work. This has happened at every summit that I have attended, which is part of the reason I keep going!

It was a pleasure to share the website I created with my grade 4 class last year with other educators. It was good to finally be able to show them an actual working site instead of a theoretical site as I usually have to do when I present. By showing the teachers an actual working site they were able to see what could actually be done when building a Google Site in a classroom setting. Teachers engaged in my session and many even began creating websites during the session that they hoped to finish and use when they got back to their classes. A few already had a site created and asked some good questions about possible changes that they could see being useful to their site.

One of the things that I realized during the session is that a lot of teachers know enough to create and use some of the Google tools, but don’t fully understand how they work or why things work like they do. For example, one teacher had a site with hidden pages but didn’t realize that he could do hide pages using the “hide from navigation pages” setting instead of manually hiding them by burying them under subpages.

I think that learning these more detailed settings is a part of my job because I have time to explore is how I differ from many teachers who use technology. I often find that teachers don’t always fully understand the ins and outs of the tech they use. They learn the basics, just enough to use something, but then just get on with using them and rarely get back to learning more in-depth elements. Of course, this isn’t all teachers and all situations, nor is it necessarily a bad thing. This is how many teachers get started using tech until they get comfortable and build enough skills to progress further.

The issue is if they get stuck but don’t have anyone who can support them, what do they do? These summits are great for teachers who are at this point, but what about the ones who can’t get to a summit or the summit comes at the wrong time in their development? This is why having a Tech Integrationist/Coach at your school is so important. Even if your teachers are very highly skilled, there will always come a point where they will need support. Having educators who are given the time to go further, research, and build new skills is essential.

This is the dilemma of staffing a school, do you keep Tech Integrationists/Coaches on staff when they are ‘not needed’? Or, do you change their roles in some way and keep them so that when they are needed they are ready to help and support their coworkers. One thing that I am thankful for is that I work overseas so that my school has the financial flexibility to make the decisions to keep Tech Integrationists/Coaches on staff to support their teacher’s and student’s growth and learning.

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