Tashkent – November 2019

On November 21st I set off on another adventure in my professional journey. When I was in Serbia, Sarah mentioned to me that she was planning on hosting a Summit at her school in November. I said, “ Hey keep me in mind, I would love to help”.

Well, it took a few weeks for her to get confirmation that it was happening but she emailed me and said, “You still willing to come?” I said “Yup!” and asked if there were plans to host a staff bootcamp. Turns out that her school was interested in doing just that, so I spread the word at my school and got three secretaries interested in going!

On the 21st of November off we set. We all ended up on the same flight out of Moscow to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Since the flight options weren’t great it meant that we got to Tashkent with a whole day to spend hanging out. Check out my travel blog for more on the adventures I had outside of the Summit!

One of the nice things about going on one of these summits with colleagues is that you get to see how they grow over the course of a summit. The three ladies that traveled with me to this summit were secretaries from the school from different areas within the school which made it interesting because I wanted to see what they were able to take away from the summit.

The summit started on Friday with a boot camp for the staff and while they were in their session, I was able to go on a tour of the school with the Tech Director.

At about lunchtime, Sarah arrived back at school after picking up Kim. Bogdan was already at the school because he was in charge of the Staff Bootcamp. So we got to talking and having conversations about our jobs. This is one of the things that I love about attending these summits – having time to talk with colleagues who are in similar jobs and who face similar issues in their job.

Once Sarah and Kim and I sat down and started talking, we quickly realized that we really wanted to find a way to do this more often with each other – share ideas, have conversations, just talk about our jobs and support each other. So for example, we started talking about 3D printing and Kim was able to share some really awesome resources and Sarah was able to share some really outstanding tips and tricks that she’d learned from having 3D printers at her school in Amsterdam.

Which is all very good because we are in the super early stages with the idea of 3D printing at our school. Learning some of the do’s and don’ts before we get a printer will hopefully save us time and effort when it actually arrives.

We also got to help Sarah with a lesson that she was working on with a class. She was finishing up a lesson that the 2nd graders were doing in support of their unit. She asked me to help a group of kids figure out a way to take their Google slides and make them into an invitation. She left me alone with the kids and I asked them what their invitation should look like. They talked about some designs and they thought about what the paper should look like. They finally decided on “a four-fold card”, but they only had three slides so we had to make a ‘please come’ slide. We folded a piece of paper so that we would know what the card would look like. Then we played around with which way the pictures would go. It was really interesting because at one point I knew that when you print one of these you have to have one image upside down.

I said to the kids “I know there is a problem that you guys are not gonna see until after we print it, so, in an effort to save paper, I’m gonna try to show you what that problem might be.” I took their little four-sided folded invitation and I wrote the number one, two, three, and four on each of the sides.

When we unfolded the paper they realized that one of the numbers was upside down. The kids were like “Oh, what are we going to do?”

I said, “Well, we could flip one of the slides upside down.”

They were like, “Can you do that?”

I said “yeah” and so I showed them how to flip one of the slides upside down.

They helped me do that and also fix it so that it was the way the slide originally looked because when you flip a slide it doesn’t flip exactly.

Then we printed one and tested it. They decided that they approved of the design. Then, they thought that they actually wanted four different prints because they wanted the front of the card to be different and not always the same slide. They had three slides and they wanted each slide to be first on the prints. We rearranged the slides so that we had three different print layouts. Then they wanted a “thank you, please come” kind of note, so we added all of that to the layouts. We printed them and then made sure that we got everything right and that they folded correctly. Finally, we printed a bunch off. They learned how to fold them which is kind of funny because once they folded some of them, some of the other kids began to finish up and they had a little bit of an assembly line going where they were teaching other kids how to do all the folds. They were super excited about all their invitations and wanted to immediately take them around to everybody.

So the next day, Saturday, was the day of the actual summit, which was basically a school summit for Sarah’s school with all of her teachers and staff members who were interested in coming to it. Sarah had planned a Bootcamp for the Sunday as well so some teachers came only on Saturday, some only on Sunday, and some came both days. Saturday was a typical summit where there were different 45-minute workshops and teachers could choose which ones they wanted to go to because there were four of us presenting. It was actually really good because it meant that in each block of time one of us had a bit of time off and could wander and see what other people were presenting.

It also meant that Sarah didn’t have to be one of the people who gave a workshop, though she did. She made a point of telling her staff members before she started the summit that if they were interested in something that the other speakers were doing to go to their workshop over something with her because she worked at the school and they could see her any time. I thought it was a really good point to make because I think some teachers would have gravitated towards her because she was known and familiar when in reality it was a good opportunity for them to hear different voices and get different tips and information from different sources.

I presented three different sessions. Google sheets 101, calendar, email tips, and tricks, and introduced deduction to Google Drive. Two of those were sessions I had never presented before which was totally fine because it gave me a chance to create resources and to learn the best way to aim those sort of beginner presentations for those elements.

For example, in sheets 101, I have to be very careful not to go too fast with sheets because a lot of people do not find them intuitive, but confusing. I am at quite a proficient level with the sheets, so I don’t find them that way and I tend to jump and assume people know things when they really don’t. So as Maureen told me before I left Moscow “Cary, remember to go slow. Go slow.” So I kept that in my mind and I tried very hard to do just that!

Calendar and email was also interesting because I use them personally but I don’t use them professionally so it was interesting to try to figure out which features are on both sides and there were a couple of things that I needed to get Sarah to give me screenshots for because we don’t use them at my school. I can’t open Gmail on my school account and look at the options that are available. Also, because we don’t have certain things set up in calendar I can’t see those features. So it was interesting to try to create resources for something that I theoretically know exists but don’t actually have practice with. My introduction to Google Drive was just a basic one that I’ve done in the past which is always really nice. Surprisingly, people who have been in drive for a while often attend because they feel like they’ve missed the basics on Google Drive and they don’t use it to the best of their ability, so they come and they always learn something which is really rewarding.

It is actually great to have people in a group who are mixed because then they give tips to each other and it’s not all me talking which is lovely and sort of the whole way Apps Events works. I mean, we tell people, “If you’re in a session and you decide 10 minutes in that this session is the wrong level for you or it’s not the right topic for you or you really know it all then leave and go find another one that’s better for you.” So, the whole workshop summit system with apps events is around the attendees choosing what’s best for them and advocating for themselves.

We as presenters really don’t care if someone gets up and leaves in the middle of our session or comes in and joins in the middle of our session. We plan for that. We sort of expect it. Because of this attitude we also don’t mind if halfway through a session everybody in the room sort of lets it be known that they need the session to change direction in some way. For example, for everybody in the room the session’s too basic and so can you teach us other stuff or the session’s too advanced can you go back and teach us more basic stuff, or we really, really need as a group to learn about this feature, for example. That’s one of the things I love about these Apps Events workshops is how they’re so completely agile and fluid enough that we can really take into consideration the audience that we have in our session and we can adapt and change for them as we need to. I think that’s one thing that I love about doing these workshops because I love having that agility in classrooms and I love doing that and teaching adults is similar.

On Sunday we went back to the school and Sarah, Kim, and Bogdon gave a Bootcamp for the staff. Kim and Bogdon were the ones mainly giving the Bootcamp. Sarah was supporting both of them and making sure that they didn’t need anything. I went to school for a little while just to make sure everybody got started and also to bring my suitcase because I was going to be spending Sunday night with Sarah. Then I went into Tashkent so now you have got to go back to my personal blog to learn about Tashkent!

After a few hours I came back to the school and was there when the Bootcamp was finishing up and what was really interesting was all three days all of the staff members at the school were buzzing about what they were learning, how they were learning, and the possibilities of what they were learning. I was out in a sort of foyer area several times and teachers didn’t always know who I was. It was interesting because they were talking freely around me and no one was complaining about how the PD was not helpful or they didn’t understand why they had to come to it or “oh my gosh, why am at school on a Saturday”. It was all super buzzy and like, “Oh I got an idea for this…’ and ‘I could do this…’ and ‘Oh I want to do this in my classroom on Monday’. That is really, really awesome because that helps teachers motivate themselves to try things more than anything else. I found for example that your principal telling you that you have to do something does not motivate you as much as you going to a workshop and seeing something really cool and wanting to come back and try it. It was really nice to see that even after working a full week, having training on both Saturday and Sunday and knowing that they were going to work on Monday the teachers were still buzzy, excited, interested, and motivated. It was really awesome..

On Sunday, Kim left for Munich to go back home and Sarah and I had half of the day to continue to chat. Even though we had three packed days we were still scrambling for time to do some talking and just brainstorm some thoughts together. In the middle of it, we realized that we needed some way to organize all this stuff so I started a Google Drive, a spreadsheet, a document and we sort of got ourselves in a position where hopefully we’re organized and we can share information with each other in some way. And then Christmas break happened, so we’re still working on that and hopefully that something will continue soon!

All in all, it was a great summit and it was awesome to be able to present so many times to a staff of people who all had a mutual goal of understanding and learning. It was also super awesome to spend time with colleagues who have the same job.

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