Friday, April 13, 2012

What a Day! Part 2: Meeting Alec Couros

I left Vanier buzzing with optimism and headed towards the District Education Centre (DEC) where I was invited to attend a talk given by Mr. Alec Couros.  I first "met" Alec last summer while I was a participant at the RSCON3 on line conference.  He and his brother George presented a talk titled "School is Like a Restaurant". I loved their down to earth, yet knowledgeable, and funny style.  Immediately I started to follow them on Twitter.

Unfortunately Alec's brother George was in Surrey during our teacher job action so I was not able to hear him speak, nor meet him in person.  I was not going to let that happen with Alec.

With a full release day, and a special invitation to the event, I was stoked to be at DEC mid day on a school day.  As soon as I walked into the building I ran into my twitter friend Robyn, my librarian and friend Jeena, and my friend Paul.  While I was chatting away in walked Alec.  At first I didn't recognize him even though he was saying hello to me.  I think it was because there were so many unfamiliar faces yet some new twitter friends too.  But I quickly realized that it was Alec.  Wow! That's pretty much what went through my head.  I immediately walked over to him and said hello.  He totally recognized me from my twitter picture.  It was great to finally meet him.  We chatted for a little bit before I was whisked away to do a job for one of the helping teachers.  As you can imagine I was still buzzing.

Once things were ready to go Alec began his presentation.  Just like I remember he was lively, interesting, motivating, and filled with tons of great stories, and clips.  I was a bit freaked out by the program he used that tweeted his slides at the same time as we saw them but  I think it was great that those that were not able to attend could still follow the feed.  It was great to hear him live.

Some of the things that stuck out for me in his presentation included how important it is for us to teach our students to be responsible on line and that we need to think about our actions all the time because the reality is we are always on candid camera some where.  I love how he talked about getting cameras into young children's hands so that we can see the world as they do.  This one really struck a chord with me as I am trying so hard to get my students to become the photographers for our class blog.  It's still a work in progress but Alec did remind of how important it is that they do this.

He shared this video, which I just love.  It reminds me of how things are changing.

Alec talked about being networked and connected with others.  Since signing up for twitter last July I can say that I am a very connected educator these days.  My Personal Learning Network has really grown and I am constantly learning and sharing with some amazing educators.

Digital literacy vs digital fluency was also key to me as I am trying  to move from being digitally literate, to digitally fluent.  While I  feel like I've learned a lot this year around utilizing technology to learn, share, and create most of what I do I've learned from others.  While that certainly isn't a bad thing, I strive to get to a place in my learning and teaching where I am being the innovative one.

Alec talked about blogging and shared Kathy Cassidy's class blog.  That slide was pretty cool for me because I interact with Kathy on twitter and I love learning with/from her.  But what was cool about that slide for me was that there is a link to my class blog on her blog.  And yes, I was quick to let Alec know.  He also talked about having students blog on their own blogs and I was able to share my student's blogs with the room.  Needless to say it was a great afternoon for me.

But, that's NOT where things ended for me.  As the questions started for Alec I snuck up to Dr. Elisa Carlson's office.  If you don't know her she is a Director of Instruction in my school district and I think she is just amazing for so many different reasons.  She has been a huge supporter of what I've been doing in my classroom.  But why was I in her office - which by the way is beautiful and has an incredible view?

A few weeks back I created a video to help show how technology is being used in my grade one classroom.

I made this video as a way to thank Elisa for all the incredible things she's done for me, and my district this year.  Elisa has been instrumental in leading our district into the 21st century.  The video was used in a presentation shown to our  Superintendent and  his team.  I was in Elisa's office to see the presentation, and to see how my video was a part of it.

I have to admit it was a pretty awesome feeling knowing that something I created was viewed by the Superintendent of my school district. In my mind I'm just a grade one teacher, one of over hundreds in my school district so this was a big deal for me.

Elisa presented me with a wonderful stack of professional books and a kind thank you card from her and Dan Turner, Director, Information Management Services.  It was quite over whelming.

In the mean time Alec was finished his presentation downstairs and had joined Elisa and I in her office. Elisa had a few things she had to do so Alec and I were left chatting one on one.  While we've interacted a bit on twitter it just isn't quite the same as being in the same room with him.  Alec and I talked about a variety of things.  It was pretty cool to chat with him one on one.  While he's someone I've admired through twitter he is a regular down to earth guy.

But things didn't even end there.   If you can believe it (I'm still not sure I can believe it and I was there) I was extended an invitation to join her;  Dan Turner; Sheila Morissette, Principal Fraser Heights Secondary, and  Dee Reiter, Principal Sunrise Elementary; for dinner with Alec Couros.  I was speechless - which isn't something that happens often in my world. ;-)  Of course I said, "YES!"

Dinner was a fabulous opportunity to me. It was the first time I've met Dan Turner, and the first thing I said to him after I told him my name was, "I'm sorry".  I've kind of caused his department of bit of trouble this year with all my technology wants and needs and felt it was best that I apologize right away. He laughed.

The view was beautiful (even if it was overcast and rainy), the food was fantastic, the company great, and the evening a success.  To be perfectly  honest it was a bit surreal for me but it was an incredible opportunity and I am so thankful to have had it.

As the night was coming to an end Alec wondered if I'd see him the next day at one of his engagements.  Unfortunately the answer was no. Alec gave me a friendly hug and I managed to get a photo of us.  

It truly was an incredible day.

So if you've stuck it out this long and have read both parts to my day you can see why this was one of the best days I have ever had while working for the Surrey School District. Really.

I can't thank the people involved with my day enough.

What a day!


  1. What a great account of the day, and thanks so much for the kind words throughout. It really was incredible to meet you - I loved your enthusiasm and hearing about the great things you are doing. And to think, this is all fairly new for you - pretty amazing stuff, huh? :-)

    Now, we should have gone to that playoff game just to finish off the day perfectly. Well, if the Canucks would have won, that is. :-(

    I am sure we will meet again, but if not soon, we will certainly connect online. All the best to you, and yours. Take care.

    1. You know Alec, with the amazing day I was having we should have gone to that playoff game and then they more than likely would have won, and wouldn't be down two games at this point. But such is life as a true Canuck fan. Never a dull moment.

      I'll have to keep you posted with what happens with me. So many more incredible things coming my way. As I said in the post, it's all a bit surreal for me but I'm loving the journey I'm on.

      Thank you for you kind words here and yes I know we'll keep connected online. Looking forward to seeing more amazing shots of your children.

  2. What a great day, Karen! You had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was coming next. Who knew that one day could hold this much excitement and learning!

    1. Thanks Tia. It was a great day for me but I have to admit I loved being back with my students the next day too.