I wasn’t selected to present at #CUERockStar

On 22 December, I was notified that I was not selected as a presented for any of the CUE Rock Star camps scheduled for summer 2015. I had put together what I considered to be a pretty decent proposal, raising my hand to volunteer to come to California to moderate morning and afternoon sessions at one of any of a number of the three day camps. but alas, my services are not going to be needed.

So, let’s talk about this.

Why would I volunteer?

CUE Rock Star camps sound awesome. Three days of hands-on activities, facilitated by excited and invigorated moderators who want to be there, on topics that are important and applicable to the people attending. I see it as events that are in that gray area between coaching events (the hands-on and doing-nature lends itself towards coaching), and professional development if it’s integrated into a bigger plan for those attending.

And I firmly believe that something, to think outside of the box, you actually have to get out of the box. Some teachers need to get away from their own schools, their own internally run training and growth sessions, to find and get the things like this that they really need. So, I am a believer in CUE Rock Star, and things like it (edcamps, etc)

I raised my hand then, and I put together a proposal, in part because I believe in these things. Just as a raised my hand to lead a session at #edcampNJ. But I also did it because I know that I have unique offerings to bring to situations like this; these things work because of the capabilities and experiences of the volunteers who step forward. 500 people in one auditorium, with one presenter, is not as effective as small groups of 10 exploring different topics with a dynamic and engaged presenter, on a topic of tailored interest to those 10.

Because let’s be honest – after almost 20 years in the Army, I have been educating Soldiers, though no one would call me a teacher in the traditional sense. I am and have been an educator, making Soldiers better Soldiers, turning intelligence analysts into skilled writers and presenters, and helping junior leaders on their journey of growth of leadership, mentoring and coaching, and in professionally developing their subordinates. These are things that are as equally applicable to traditional teachers and other educators, as it has been during my time in the Army. And sharing that is another key reason why I volunteered.

How do I feel about not being selected?

I am suppose to say that it was a defeating blow. That it took the wind out of me, and left me crumpled to the floor. But I am OK with it. I know a lot of good people who also applied to present at CUE Rock Star and who were selected, and so I feel fine about not being selected. I also have a busy 2015 – retiring from the Army, heading West to find a home to buy, trying to find a new job in a new field, and moving the home and family one more time. I raised my hand, I volunteered, and I am not being taken up on that offer; it’s good to offer.

I know and understand that I am not the normal volunteer who comes forward to volunteer, too. Teachers are selected. Google Certified Educators are selected. Apple Distinguished Educators are selected. I know that I am qualified to talk about topics like leadership, and mentoring and coaching, not because I can list my badges and awards as Bronze Star Medal or Parachutist Badge, or even a Google Certified Teacher, YouTube Star Teacher, or Microsoft Innovative Educator, but because of my experiences. On paper, I probably don’t immediately look like a good fit. I accept that.

And yes, a teeny tiny part of me is going to hold out and wait to hear how each of the sessions goes, and wait to hear about a presenter to who does not truly bring their A game. About a presenter who did not really prepare. About a presenter who did not really seem to have put their everything into their sessions. Because yes, that will rile me up some – if someone does not put as much effort into their opportunity as I think or know I would, when they were selected and I was not. Missed opportunity for me, and squandered one for them, and mostly, cheated sessions for those attending and having a facilitator who is off their game.

What did I actually submit?

I want to share that. When I was putting together mine, I asked friends who had applied in previous years for help, and they privately shared their proposals. But I want to just put mine out there. Here they are.

1st Session: Google, Apple or Microsoft Session Title

iDevice & iPD – Taking control of your personal & professional development

What skill are your participants going to leave with after your session?

Participants will be able to effectively leverage their iDevice to better manage and implement both their professional development and personal development as teachers and education professionals. Participants will leave knowing how to integrate their personal and professional development goals and plans into their iDevice. Participants will be able to sustain using these methods in the near to mid term.

Google, Apple or Microsoft Session Description

Admit it: PD sessions can be on par with root canals. Come join an Army Dad in talking about Army Professional Development and looking at the layers of your personal and professional development. This session, geared towards all skill level users, will provide hands-on experimentation in how you can bring to bear the full power of Apple’s iCloud and your iDevice to improve both your own individual PD plans and your mentoring and counseling relationships. This session will address CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1.

2nd Session: STEAM Session Title

Finding Your Hedgehog: Not Being Great at Everything in a Classroom

What skill are your participants going to leave with after your session?

Participants will be able to identify their strengths and weaknesses for the range of subjects they teach. Participants will begin to research ways in which they can use their personal and professional development goals and objectives to improve select elements of these subjects, as needed. Participants will understand how to shape and leverage their Professional Learning Network, to support these goals and objectives. Participants will understand and be able to move forward in identifying ways to add mentoring and coaching to their professional development plans, to address some of these shortfalls.

STEAM Session Description:

Teaching General Ed and struggling to excel with some or all of STEAM? Come join an Army Dad in talking about ways to self-assess and moving forward in your own personal and professional development to become better within STEAM. From the Army’s Center of Gravity Analysis, to looking at the simplicity of being a hedgehog, he’ll guide you through researching and self-reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses, and developing plans for your own actions to either grow your own capabilities or expand your resources for within your classroom. This session will address CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7.

Third session:
Technology Pedagogies (CCSS, Flipped/Blended/Online Learning) OR Multimedia & Devices (tablets/1:1/BYOD) Session Title:
Sir, YES SIR! Teaching kids to brief

What skill are your participants going to leave with after your session?

Participants will be able to lead students in developing and improving their briefing skills using multimedia presentations. Participants will be able to lead students in identifying theses statements, critical and key supporting facts, and developing presentation frameworks necessary to support full, complete multimedia presentations and briefings. Participants will be able to lead students in fully documenting and citing sources in multimedia presentations.

Multimedia Session Description:

Teaching kids to give multimedia presentations is like teaching them to be potty trained. Come join an Army Dad / retired intelligence officer as he shares a career worth of lessons learned in teaching Soldiers, aka his Army “kids” how to research and present knowledge, support critical arguments, and then present this information using digital media and visual displays in ways that would impress even the President. This session will address CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4/5/6 and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7/9

Good grief, why would I share my ideas? Someone might use them!

There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. I didn’t get selected, so it’s not like there’s a big loss in sharing them. I have known people to get protective of winning formulas; in any case, I’m not, and this isn’t, so there.

2. No one could rock these topics like I could. No one. Even if someone cut and pasted these texts into another upcoming CUE Rock Star camp, I doubt they’d do it better than me.

3. Honestly, I hope someone takes these ideas, gets inspired, and creates new ideas on their own. I find great irony in that we push our kids to do this in educational setting, but that we struggle to do this as adults. Someone, please – go make something great out of these ideas, and tell me when you’re presenting or leading a CUE Rock Star camp on this – I’d love to be there for it.

4. There are going to be others out there who are going to think about submitting a proposal for something like CUE Rock Star, but are holding back because they will think it’s a lot of work. I want to show that it’s not the proposal that’s the hard part. Getting through selection is hard, sure, but look at this stuff – it’s not a lot, it’s not complicated, and it’s not that difficult. The hard part truly is in making the preparations to lead the sessions.

Where am I going from here? These are all crazy ideas.

I have no idea. I have a couple of magazine articles in draft. I am tossing around a book idea with a couple of people. I am back to blogging, after a long break.

As I mentioned, 2015 is going to be a crazy summer. I would love to do things like CUE Rock Star, but in looking at education conferences and events set for the summer – when teachers and the education world does such things, over the summer break – I am going to be busy as hell, with the house hunting, job hunting, family activities, and big drive west.

I would love to do more on the topics of

* Leadership
* Mentoring and coaching
* Personal and professional development

We’ll see. Writing gets me so far. Maybe the podcast comes back. I’d love to speak and lead sessions, but timing is everything.

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