Find Your Haystack – A Brief #TTPlay 2017 Recap.

Eleni Kyritsis and Steve Brophy kicking off TTPlay 2017.

Never having met or seen Ewan McIntosh in person I was quite excited to hear his opening Keynote address at the recent Teach Tech Play Conference in Melbourne this week. I have followed Ewan via multiple mediums over the past few years and have had the pleasure of working with his organization, NoTosh at my previous school.

One of the core messages, if not THE core message that came from Ewan’s keynote was about ‘finding you haystack’. Too often in education, and, occasionally in life for that matter, we lose sight of the bigger picture and get caught up in the smaller details, which quite often are what hinder and/or stagnate the progress we are wanting to make.

As educators and leaders we often believe we know what our haystack is, what the bigger picture is, however we almost always get caught up in the details. As Ewan mentioned, “there’s a lot of wasted effort on the planet with really talented people working really hard on the wrong things.” Cannot argue with that!

As an audience we were also challenged to find our one ‘thing’ from the two day event and do it well. This reminded me of something I was once told in my first year of teaching and that has stuck with me until this day, and that being, “it is much more beneficial to self and others for you to do few things really well, rather than a lot of things half-arsed.” Cannot argue with that either!

The TTPlay Conference for me was about a few things in particular which were of a hidden agenda of sorts. Firstly, to reconnect with people I had not had a whole lot of contact with, face to face anyway, due to various reasons. Conferences and events such as this are made outstanding by those that are in attendance. It is through the chats, conversations, being challenged, sharing and collaborating that what I really enjoy. It’s the indirect and informal conversations that are often the most powerful component.

It was also about getting back in to a presenting mindset. I have enjoyed presenting at conferences over the years and feel, occasionally, that I have something worth sharing! The jury is still out… 🙂 To be back in this space was breath of fresh air and I enjoyed it immensely, although I still get as nervous as I first used too. I have embedded both my presentations below as an FYI.

A striking resemblance I made at TTPlay was to compare this conference with one I had previously attended in the past, the annual ICTEV (ICT in Education Victoria) conference. The ICTEV and VITTA (Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association) have since merged to form the wonderful DLTV (Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria). Too many acronyms. The similarities of these two events came not in the quality of presenters and people in attendance, that was a given, but came from the relaxed, friendly, and laid back atmosphere. Something you do not always get at all events such as this.

Now in referring back to Ewan’s keynote, what was my ‘haystack’ and my ‘thing’ to takeaway from TTPlay. I can recall sitting there in the audience and thinking initially… “I’ve no idea”. I really could not think of a reasonable ‘thing’ that would be my own personal ‘haystack’. And then, towards the end of the second day it came.

My haystack lies with inspiring others to innovate”.

How can I at my own setting inspire staff to, as Matt Miller put it during his great keynote address, become the mavericks, black sheep, and purple cows of their profession. That students need maverick teachers. Teachers who challenge and change practice for the greater good of their learners and their needs. Regardless of how I do this, and the outcome I achieve, watch this space and i’ll be sure to keep you posted as to how it goes!

In future, if you’re thinking of attending a great event and hearing from teachers talk about teaching and what they are doing to inspire their students, particularly in the digital space, TTPlay is a great event to attend.

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