Professional presentation as a powerful form of reflection

This past week I was part of a team from my elementary school who presented at the Wisconsin RtI (Response to Intervention) Summit in Green Bay. In our presentation we talked about the importance of the use of student learning data and more importantly how constant collaboration among educators makes that learning data come to life. I won’t get into any more details of the presentation content, but the point I want to make in this post is how you, the presenter, can greatly benefit from the experience.

To me, reflection is such an effective practice for educators to improve what we do. You purposefully and mindfully think back on what you’ve done to find what went well, what didn’t, and then what you might do about each of those. I have a 30 minute drive to/from school each day, so find myself thinking about work a lot, but to really make it effective I should record more of my main discoveries from that thinking. This blog is one of the ways I do that. I know I get a few readers, but I simply enjoy sitting down, corralling some of the million thoughts that go in and out of my head each day, and then putting them into a few paragraphs.

Preparing and sharing a presentation for colleagues in your field is another way to do this. Knowing that you will be “on the stage” in front of people who have expertise in your topic certainly makes you take a lot of time to analyze your subject and then find a way to creatively and accurately share what you know and what you’ve done. That certainly was the case for my team last week. We reflected back on 5 years of work and then had to condense that into a 60 minute presentation. From the comments, compliments, and questions we heard from our audience, I know we shared information that will help those in attendance, but even more important was what we learned about our own practice.

So fellow educator, you go do the same. What is your story? Go share it for the sake of those in your audience and also for yourself.

Quick addendum: I knew my topic quite well for this presentation, but spent a lot of time on presentation and slide show design. Found some great links on presentations from Brian Berry (aka Nunavut_Teacher on Twitter). Another great resource is I used Keynote instead of PowerPoint, as I find it much easier to add media and I love the simplicity of the designs.

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