by Malorie Crafton, Physics Facilitator, Calumet New Tech High School
After waking up from a nap; my attempt to get rid of the grogginess, I woke up realizing that I miss NTAC. It was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting- but at the same time a rejuvenating week making it a paradox within itself. For my week at NTAC 2016 I was on the train the trainer track, I was on the social media team and had the opportunity to tape opening ceremonies on Periscope. I wanted to share some of my experiences and summarize my week with a few major takeaways.
1. The Importance to Connect
I had the amazing opportunity to be on the train the trainer track (Shout out to Zach Powers and Brad!) during NTAC 2016; it is a diamond in the rough. If you have a passion for New Tech and helping facilitate the adult learning at your school, get with your coach and start the badging process to get on the track. I spent my week in a room with people that were enthusiastic, competent and had an absolute passion for New Tech. Plus, I had the greatest table ever to work with as we continually pushed each other to be better and celebrated our trials and triumphs for the week while having fun.
We also had some major New Tech fan girl moments. As a member of a social media team it gave me an awesome opportunity to run around, take selfies and meet other people! One of my friends told me Ted Fujimoto stopped her and recognized her so obviously we had to take a picture with him.
NTAC also gave our district a chance to sit down together and figure out what it means to be a New Tech district. We discussed the disconnect the district felt between the elementary schools, the middle school and the high school. However, working with Jude Garnier made us realize how much we need each other. Working with Jude was empowering for our district and really changed our journey. There were plenty of happy tears shed as we realized the transformation and how far we have already come.
But the most important connection to make at this conference isn’t external, but internal. My first few impressions of New Tech was that these people really like to talk about their feelings. Starting the process of self-reflection was a struggle for me. Regardless of which path you took at NTAC you were forced to think about yourself and the role you play in your school or district. For me it was what type of coach and leader do I want to be? I realized that before I can attempt to coach others, I need to connect with myself and identify my coaching outcomes and where I want my career to take me. I learned that I always need to keep the end in mind!
2. Change YOUR Mindset
I don’t think I can express into words how grateful I am for the advice we received from Zach Powers on our Train the Trainer track. Another member from my staff was on the same track and I’m not sure we ever shut up about Zac’s two pieces of advice. We talked about them so much sometimes our principal had to walk away from us, and she never walks away from a good New Tech conversation! Apparently we started getting a little annoying about it.
- Always assume a person is at where they’re at.
- Always think they have the best interest in the students.
We all have naysayers in our school- I mention the word naysayer and probably a couple jump to mind. While we think they’re intentionally avoiding work or being resistant to New Tech, if we go into a situation with these preconceived ideas about THEM where is this coaching going to take us? This also applies to students. We need to drop preconceived ideas about our students and find the ROOT of the problem and their understanding. A very powerful statement I took from NTAC 2015 was when an ignite speaker said that we needed to drop our ego as educators. Remember- it’s not always about us but about facilitating the learning of others (both students and other adults) and that we are all after the same common goal.
3. We’re All In This Together
Did you know that your school isn’t the only school in the history of time to have problems with advisories, how to properly use technology, uniform issues, OR having total staff buy in? Seriously- IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE. I sat in a room all week with the others in my track from all different types of New Tech schools and we all had the SAME issues. Do you know what isn’t going to fix these issues? Continuing to complain about them. Do you want to know what I think will fix these issues? Collaborating together to figure them out. We are a network of thousands of educators, global wide, and the answers are within the network itself. Just like solving the issues of our school can be within the school, district or even our students.
But not only are we in this together with common obstacles, we also experience so many successes unique to New Tech Network schools. Ask any New Tech educator about their favorite project and they will talk to you about it for an endless amount of time. We LOVE to do that! Or ask a school about how becoming New Tech saved their school and has been such a positive impact for their kids and they won’t stop talking. I’ve seen it happen endless times. The idea of realizing we’re all in this together comes full circle and shows the importance of connecting at NTAC and within the network. And thank gosh for that new feature in Echo that allows us to connect outside of the conference!
The theme for NTAC 2016 was “making it personal.” And I hope you did just that, not just for the kids, but for yourself. I honestly had one of the best weeks of my professional life at NTAC 2016. As is true in any experience, it is what you make of it. New Tech Network students are so lucky to have educators that are excited and empowered. So thank you, New Tech Network for another outstanding conference and see you in St. Louis!