This is a story about a shy, quiet teacher who pulled himself out of a rut and was pushed out of his comfort zone to share his passion with others.
Back in 2004 I was in a ten-year rut. I was teaching from a textbook and using lessons made by others. I didn’t stand out at staff meetings and the idea of presenting to others terrified me. Teaching like this was easy and comfortable. I had students filling out worksheets and taking tests. I went to a few science conferences, but when I thought about applying to present I thought, “Who would want to come to a session about worksheets and collecting papers to grade.”
I needed to change, for myself and my students. Then I attended a CUE Rock Star camp in Truckee. I had my doubts. The word “Rock Star” made me think that this conference was for “high-end” educators.
This was not the case. My first day I had a session with Jennifer Kloczko called “Bodacious Blogging”. It started out like any other session. She introduced herself and began telling us the purpose of blogs and why educators like herself were using them. Then she said something that would forever change the way I present to my students and to other educators. Thirty minutes into the session Jennifer said, “Alright everyone, let’s make a blog.” Wait, what did she just say? She was going to give me an opportunity to make one of my own? Where were the 30+ slides telling me how to do a blog? Instead we had time to make our own blog while she walked around and helped.
After my Rock Star Camp experience I decided to make two changes. First, I was no longer going to present information through boring slides, textbooks, and worksheets to my students. Second, I wanted to present to teachers in the “Rock Star” way.
One of the first conferences I presented at was called ETC!2015. This was a one day conference at CSU-Stanislaus. My session was on making dynamic slideshows and HyperDocs. My presentation consisted of screenshots and explaining how to make a “Choose-Your-Own Adventure” type of presentation. When the feedback came in the most memorable were statements like, “The presenter seemed nervous and talked quickly.” and “The presenter did not seem prepared.” This was the moment I realized that my presentation style was like a worksheet. The audience was just sitting, taking notes and listening, just like my old students.
A few months after presenting at ETC!2015, I was accepted as faculty for CUE Rock Star Chico. Note the terminology- faculty, not presenter. This was my turning point. This experience was what I needed to turn both my teaching and presenting style around. Being surrounded by such energy and passion made me realize that my boring slide shows were not going to cut it.
I learned more about the CUE Rock Star experience by being on the faculty than I ever expected. They call presenters “Lead Learners”. You learn just as much as the educators sitting in the room. I learned that you don’t have to be an expert. You just have to demonstrate a passion for education and give the audience an experience that is memorable. That’s the mindset I went into the 2015/2016 school year with.
In February 2016, I went back to ETC! and presented again. This time I made my session like a CUE Rock Star session- I wanted everyone to walk out with something to use in their classroom on Monday. My slideshow was minimal and I focused on the experience. Everyone who came to my session walked out with something they made and could teach their students how to use in the classroom. No more screenshots and trying to explain the process. We made a stop-motion animation together and what a difference. People walked out of the session saying it was one of the best ones they have been to. They were telling their friends. My second session was filled and people were sitting on the floor. It was a completely different experience and the feedback I got was 180 degrees different than a year before.
Because of the Rock Star Experience and the amazing professionals I met through CUE, I went from a worksheet and boring slides educator to memorable and engaging. I encourage anyone with a passion for teaching, who brings a memorable experience to their classroom to attend a CUE Rock Star Camp. Then the next year, you should be a part of the faculty. It will forever change your classroom and presentations! If I can go from the “worksheet” teacher to someone who ROCKS, you can too!
CUE Rock Star camp registration is currently open. Don’t miss this chance to revolutionize your classroom.
Corey Cobel is currently a 7th grade Science teacher in Roseville, CA. He has been integrating technology into his classroom since the late 90’s. From LCD Panels on the overhead projector and Laser Discs to Chromebooks and Web 2.0 Corey has always had a passion for educational technology. He is a Google for Education Trainer and CUE Rockstar Faculty. He loves flying his drone and getting amazing video from above.