Yes, I am opening with a Star Trek joke. Worf – you know, the 1st Klingon to become an officer in the Star Fleet. I have felt like that for some time now, since being asked to be the first parent to be a member of the faculty at a CUE Rockstar event. He and I are indeed strangers in our own strange lands, with mine being Crescent City.
It wasn’t that long ago when I wrote about being called and asked to joint the faculty for the Crescent City event. Honestly, as I made a long drive from Portland to the seaside city, I really felt prepared. I had been asked to put together in session for each of the three days, on the different themes for each day (Google, STEAM, and pedagogy), and I had done that and more. I had actually put together 4 sessions, to include a surprise of 2 sessions for the second day, and plans for letting the teachers attending vote on whether I’d teach one, the other, or both that day. The drive there was calm; I had done all that I could do, to be as ready as I could be.
And a lot of that was in large part to the help and support from a lot of great people, to include current and past faculty from other CUE Rockstar events, and family and friends. It’s one thing to prepare for something you’ve done before, or to prepare for something with which you have some familiarity. It’s another, to prepare for something with which you can’t actually visualize. I’d only stopped at CUE Rockstar in Chico this summer one morning, during coffee time, to see Travis and Doug, but left even before the famed Shred Session had begun. Other than some YouTube videos (And you can learn a lot from YouTube videos!), I was on my own. Friends and family made a huge difference in getting to their point of feeling ready to go to Crescent City.
Wednesday, when it came time to set up and get ready, I was nervous to be there but not nervous to do it. I had been as though as I could be, in doing the same style of pre-combat checks I had done throughout my Army career, in preparing for and in coming to Crescent City, that I was walking into a classroom that wasn’t that much different than what I had visualized. I didn’t have a DVI-to-VGA adapter – which the Del Norte tech crew did. But I had prepared for and brought everything else, right down to a spare laptop, ample pens, far too many markers, amazing cookies from my sister Anne, and yes, because power could go out, packer’s sheets of paper to use as butcher block paper if I need to go analog and write it all out.
Do other CUE Rockstar faculty members prepare like this? Probably not. Have other CUE Rockstar faculty members worried about running out of ammunition during a firefight? I’m guessing not. But the simple truth of it is this: I was truly humbled to have been asked to be a member of the faculty, and honored to have the chance to share with teachers and be a part of their professional development, and given the emphasis I was placing on that, I was going to a similar amount of effort into preparations in order to ensure that I truly had done everything I could to bring the best sessions I could to Crescent City.
I wasn’t alone in putting out such an effort, either – the Del Norte County Office of Education and everyone involved in putting on this event went above and beyond in putting on this event. The Cue Rockstar tradition of having a daily scapegoat, to blame for whatever little things go wrong every day, just didn’t materialize in Crescent City, because things did not go wrong. That is, without a doubt, the most telling tribute ever for the effort put in by a host of one of these camps.
As for me and my sessions, hands down, the most fun was the surprise session Thursday about the Dark Web. If you want to see the slides I used, they here. I had used Poll Everywhere to confirm that people wanted an afternoon session on this, and by lunch there was a nice buzz. talking about the Dark Web can be tricky; I needed to explain a lot of technical aspects of it; I needed to address the history of things; I needed to put so many things into context, and interconnects ideas and concepts; and I needed to connect it all to both teaching and to students. And if that wasn’t enough, I really wanted to make it fun, too – which I did by having them load a live-DVD of the TAILS operating system and going with me out for a guided tour of the Dark Web, before breaking up into two teams for a game of Dark Web Bingo. I am most anxious to hear the feedback that CUE gets about this session, because I loved the immediate feedback I got from the session, that day and throughout the rest of the camp.
In addition to the Dark Web session, I was also incredibly thrilled with how the Mentor Like an Iron Major session went. I only did one session of it, on Friday afternoon, but the teachers in the session understood the difference in the pedagogy used by the Army, and could clearly see that by adopting a different approach to mentoring themselves, they would also then be modeling different mentoring for students – something they all agreed was sorely needed. In doing it, I quickly realized that this mentoring session would also be great to cover with Teachers on Special Assignment (TOSA) or school administrators.
But if I were to do my session on Profession Development again, I would re-tool it a bunch. I spent the drive home thinking about it and the Wednesday session (engaging parents), and figured out ways to rework both. The PD one for teachers would become “Oh Sheet! That’s My Professional Development” and would be reworked to be aimed at junior teachers, with a focus on Google Sheets as much as on the topic of professional development. PD would be the vehicle to address talking about Google Sheets. I wouldn’t re-tool it like this if I was going to use it with admins and principals, though – it would need to be re-tooled in a slightly different way.
As for the rest of the camp, I would have to say that, hands down, my favorite session was “From Drab to Fab – A Way to Build and Fund the Classroom of your STUDENT’S Dreams” in that Charlene not only talked about classrooms and classroom designs, but the teachers then had time to begin working together to start writing up Donors Choose proposals. This was a great topic, with a great instructor, being offered at a great time.
I am excited to take all of this and think how I can quickly apply it to the upcoming #edcampPDX, which is this week (8/19). I am thinking of trying to put together some sort of app-smash for websites, tools, and apps related to engaging parents, and leading a discussion about them on Wednesday. Think NCAA style brackets, with only 16.
All in all, it was an amazing experience. I loved doing it, I was honored to have had the chance, and I’d welcome being afforded the chance again in the future sometime. It was exhilarating – I sure didn’t need coffee to stay awake or stay on the go during my time with CUE Rockstar, that’s for sure. And it was very clear to me – the teachers attending the training were, without a doubt, the Rockstars. I was just lucky enough to be a part of the team helping them out as best I could.
Time for a nap, yo!