Every year, just before school starts, the Walled Lake Consolidated School District hosts a technology conference. The conference is planned, organized, and facilitated by Walled Lake staff for Walled Lake staff. This past August, a huge wind storm blew through the area the night before the conference. The morning of the conference, we discovered that there was no power at the hosting school, so we had to cancel it. Hundreds of teachers and administrators were disappointed to find out that their yearly dose of tech medicine was not available.
The planning team was determined to reschedule the conference for an upcoming Saturday. This proved to be more challenging than we figured. We needed to work around “big” football games, holidays, and the schedule of our keynote speaker. Rescheduling for a Fall Saturday was impossible! We couldn’t find a date until January 21, 2012. Therefore, the organizing and planning process needed to start all over, and we did the work we needed to do. We soon discovered that over 200 people registered to attend, which is unheard of for a local conference held on a Saturday. When a winter storm was predicted to come through the night before, we just could not believe it. The storm turned out to be just a few inches of snow, and we had power. Hooray!
Our Keynote speaker, Dr. Rebecca Harris, General Motors’ Social Media Strategist, delivered a perfect message to a perfect day. She explained the importance of social media in the business world, and challenged the teachers and administrators attending the conference to personally experience the worlds of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. This is an important first step that is critical as we prepare our students the important skills they will need to survive in the world they are currently living in.
The Walled Lake teacher leaders delivered a smorgasbord of learning opportunities for their peers. I believe that our home-grown method of providing professional develment is tops. People can reach out to their peers to ask questions and ask for advice. “If he/she can do it at that school with the same resources, then I can, too!”
Our little conference garnishes professional relationships, provides needed encouragement, and tweeks learning that promotes the kinds of skills that our students require to survive in the world they will live in after they leave us, their college years and beyond. I am so proud of the teacher leaders who volunteer their time and share their talents to help make the Walled Lake Consolidated School District the best place to educate children.