Up until this week, the closest I’d ever come to rock star status was extremely peripherally, as the teenage girlfriend of the drummer in a popular rock band in the Gulf Coast, Florida hometown where I spent my junior and senior high school years. This somewhat dubious honor included sharing the passenger seat of his 80s model Plymouth Champ with drums, cymbals, speakers and related sound equipment, after having assisted in the process of loading said equipment while simultaneously fighting off various brightly made up, leather-clad “groupies.” Phew! So glad those days are over!
Rock Star Teacher Camp has been way more fun! I’ve enjoyed a low-key, productive week with awesome, “rock star” educators who have passed along their knowledge and passion in three important and timely topic areas. Day one’s sessions focused on Microsoft, Google and Apple. Day two’s sessions focused on STEAM. Day three’s sessions focused on innovative pedagogies.
All CUE Rock Star camps are purposely designed and focused as small group events that have three items in common: hands-on learning; small presenter to attendee ratios and ample time for valuable collaboration and networking.
All three days consist of two, two-hour sessions allowing attendees to “dig in deep” and really get to know their topic and build resources. Morning sessions are repeated in the afternoon so that attendees have two different opportunities to attend a workshop.
CUE Rock Star events feature one presenter for every ten attendees and a cap on attendee registration at approximately 70 participants. This allows participants to get hands-on support and learn directly from knowledgeable educators. CUE Rock Star Boston, MA, had an excellent cast of presenters, but the emphasis was on getting educators directly involved in their own learning. The attendees are truly the “rock stars” who contribute to the high-energy buzz the camps produce. The three days focus on bringing out the best for all in attendance and inspiring a new crop of ed tech leaders to step up to the plate and share. This “teachers training teachers” model is ideal in that it reaches teachers at their individual comfort and knowledge levels and coaches them for success. Peers help peers at a relaxed pace that is especially suited to summertime learning. All sessions start later in the morning, end early, and offer extended lunches so that all attendees have ample opportunities to collaborate and network as part of a learning community.
I was pleased to see many fellow librarians and instructional technology specialists in the crowd, along with classroom teachers from a diverse range of subject areas and grade levels. The camps are designed for educators to take instruction to the next level through learning about the latest and best technological tools and their practical applications.
Those of us involved in the planning of professional development activities would do well to look to the CUE Rock Star model for inspiration. During “shred” sessions held for 30 minutes at the beginning of each day, presenters pitch their focus areas to the crowd in a lively, fun-filled and good-natured spirit of competitiveness. Though some might feel intimidated by this format, I applaud the way it challenges educators to embrace their topics as they passionately share their areas of interest and expertise with the audience. After all, isn’t this what we should and must aspire to do as educators each day with our students?
Though each individual presenter had something to offer, I was pleased with the sessions I chose, ranging from “Are you a Final Cut Pro?” to “Explore Your Wild Side” (STEAM-related curriculum); and “Present Like a Rock Star.”
I am fired up to begin the new school year with the energy and flair of a David Lee Roth and/or Madonna, and the innovative mindset and expertise of a rock star educator.
Author: Cathy Collins
Ms. Collins has worked as a Media Specialist/Librarian for 14 years. She is currently a library media specialist at Sharon High School, where she has worked for the past four years. She began her career as a reporter who covered business, arts and education-related issues. While interviewing the headmaster at a private school, she realized that she wanted to combine her love of research and writing with a career in education. At that point, she returned to school for a Masters in Library Science and further graduate studies in educational leadership. Ms. Collins has published her writing in various journals including “Library Media Connection,” “NEA Today,” education-related blogs and websites including AASL’s “Knowledge Quest.” She is a 2012 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute Fellow and project consultant for the E-Book, “Searchlights and Sunglasses: Journalism in the Digital Age.” She received a “Teachers for Global Classrooms” fellowship from the U.S. State Dept. in 2014 and is the recipient of AASL’s Intellectual Freedom Award (2014) as well as a “Super Librarian” award bestowed by MSLA (Massachusetts School Library Association). She is a Massachusetts Library System Executive Board Member and has served on the MassCUE Board as PD Chair since 2013 along with the NEISTE Board. She earned National Board Certification as a Library/Media Teacher in 2009. In her spare time, she enjoys nature walks, reading, travel and yoga.