This week Baldwin County Schools of Alabama holds its annual Gulf Regional Innovative Teaching Conference. Since we are just about as Southern as you can get, the acronym for the conference is GRITC (pronounced GRITS.) 2018 marks the ten year anniversary for the conference, and every year it has gotten bigger and bigger (over 1000 participants this year) and better and better. GRITC was first started to provide teachers with the training necessary to work with computers in their classrooms. Now that Baldwin County has been a 1:1 district for at least eight years, most teachers have a pretty firm grasp on how to use the technology as a tool. At GRITC, teachers learn how to take technology to the next level. We don’t want to use tech as a substitution for how we’ve always taught. We want to use technology to transform the way we teach, and that’s what GRITC offers to educators every summer now--four days of free training!
In 2014, I began the process of becoming an eMints teacher. This is a program that began in Missouri, but in Baldwin County, leaders have determined that all of our teachers should emulate the qualities that eMints teachers possess. This is a two year program which requires participants to meet twice a month during the school year and sometimes for full days during the school year. It is very intensive training! I say all this because if it hadn’t been for the eMints program, I would have never started “teaching the teachers.” For the past five years, I have been a presenter at GRITC, and helping teachers be the best they can be has truly become a passion of mine.
So, this year I chose to give teachers classroom management tips and tricks. I started formulating my presentation in May. I worked diligently on it all summer and ended up having over sixty slides in my presentation. I felt super-prepared; I was ready!
This year, the leaders of the conference went above and beyond when selecting our keynote speaker. He was like no teacher I have ever heard speak before. First, he was in a pirate’s costume; second, he performed a complicated magic trick; third, he literally ran around the auditorium; and fourth, he rapped part of his message. If the pirate costume did not give the speaker’s name away to you, I will tell you now that it was Dave Burgess who wrote the New York Times bestseller, Teach Like a Pirate. Let me tell you, this man inspired us to transform our teaching! Thank you, Baldwin County and GRITC for bringing him to us.
Immediately after Dave’s presentation, I was scheduled to present. Usually, I am not too nervous to talk to teachers, but man, he was an extremely hard act to follow! I mean, how could I beat a pirate costume?!? So, I was extremely nervous, but the participants in my session were great and made me feel at ease. Speakers truly appreciate positive body language, and many of the folks in my room nodded their heads and smiled at me while I was presenting. I am so grateful!
A little about my presentation--Yes, I talked about Classroom Management. When I graduated from college back in the 90’s, I was not taught how to manage a classroom. And let me tell you, that first group of 8th graders ate me alive! Since I began teaching, managing a classroom was a real struggle for me, but over the years, I have gotten pretty good at doing it. What I’ve learned is that to manage a classroom a teacher needs three things: 1) strong, positive relationships with the students 2) procedures, procedures, procedures, and 3) engaging lessons. And, that is what my presentation demonstrates. Since I am a tech geek, I had to throw some technology training in as well, so I modeled for teachers how to use the Google Ad-On, Pear Deck which makes a presentation interactive.
I am presenting two more times this week, and can’t wait! Thanks Baldwin County for providing teachers the invaluable training we need to be the very best we can be.
You can find the link to my presentation below.
Teacher and Tech Geek