STEM Educator and #RugEdClassroom alum Naomi Meredith recently took over Rug-Ed's IG from InnEdCO in Breckenridge, Colorado. You can watch here!
We caught up with her post-trip on the takeaways from the InnEdCo, her travel style, and advice for teachers interested in attending or presenting at conferences.
Q. What's your travel style? -- what is in your travel bags?
Traveling has definitely become a passion of mine over the past 5 years! I enjoy traveling for leisure, but also for learning experiences as well, like conferences. Often, my leisure travel has many educational opportunities; I always try to visit the local zoos, aquariums and museums. While I do like having a plan of must-do’s when arriving at a destination, I am always up for plans changing and adding in spur-of-the-moment experiences!
No matter the occasion, I have essentials that I like to take with me wherever I go:
-iPad with my Rug-Ed Journey 10 iPad case: It’s lightweight, but I know that it will be protected when carrying it around. The stand is perfect for watching movies on the airplane!
-Backpack: Perfect for stowing carry-ons but also great when exploring all day
-Waterbottle: While I would be happy drinking coffee all day, I also need to stay hydrated (in style of course!)
-Notebook & Pencil: Great backup option if I forget to charge my iPad or the Wifi goes out!
Q. What was your favorite thing about Breckenridge?
Being an almost-Colorado Native, Breckenridge is a must-see in the summer and winter seasons. The landscape is absolutely gorgeous during both times of the year. The town has unique and local shops were you can buy interesting souvenirs and try fun food. Also, compared to other mountain towns, Breckenridge is a relatively easy drive to from Denver.
Q. What's the biggest thing you learned at InnEdCO2022?
With the Rug-Ed Journey 10 iPad case in hand, here are the biggest takeaways from the InnEdCo Conference:
-Community is always important. Surround yourself with those who inspire you, motivate you, and remind you of why you do what you do. But also, those you can have fun with wherever you go!
-There is ALWAYS something new to learn, no matter how old you are!
-Find ways to continuously reignite your passion whether it’s a conference, a meet-up or even a book. Mix it up with different opportunities to keep the creativity flowing and your purpose alive!
Q. What books did you read or other ways prepped for your presentation? What did you want the audience to walk away with from your presentation?
My long-time friend and fellow teacher and I had the opportunity to present a session, “Engagement through Innovative Upgrades”. In preparation of this session, we went through our year-long lesson plans and camera rolls and looked for experiences we taught in our classrooms that showcased our session theme, Teachers like seeing lessons in action, and we wanted to model innovation ourselves.
Some books that also helped with this session and mindset were “The Innovator’s Mindset” by George Couros, “A Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM” by Gitanjani Rao and “Lifelong Kindergarten” by Mitchel Resnick.
During our session, we gave examples of traditional K-5 lessons that were enhanced with different tools or lesson structures. Teachers were then able to collaborate and brainstorm lessons they hope to upgrade in their classroom and use the ideas from our session as inspiration. It was amazing being able to support teachers and help them think in different ways about their future lessons.
Q. What advice would you give teachers who are interested in attending conferences?
When I told some of my colleagues that I would be attending an education conference this summer, the initial response from most wasn’t jealousy or excitement. Once I explained more about it, then they had a change of mind.
Typically, educational conferences don’t always have the best reputation. They are seen as “boring” or “overwhelming”. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case! Find a conference that applies to your teaching passion.
Are you interested in gifted and talented education? Innovation? Reading strategies? Look up conferences that will be happening in your area. A lot of conferences now are providing virtual options as well if there isn’t something nearby.
If cost might be hindering your attendance, ask your school administrators for a grant. Maybe you will need to show how the conference helped your teaching by presenting to your staff on your new learning, but this can be an option to attend and help your practice as a teacher.
Also, if possible, attend the conference with your teacher-bestie. Having your buddy there during sessions but also to hang out with after makes the experience way more fun and you can talk about new learning together!
Q. What advice would you give teachers who are interested in speaking at education conferences?
The first time I ever presented in front of other teachers was when I was a classroom teacher at my own school. I was extremely nervous, super sweaty, and my voice was shaky the whole time. I even knew all these people!
The next big presentation I had was actually at InnEdCo when it was hosted in Keystone, Colorado. I was still nervous and sweaty, and definitely not confident, but I was excited that I was able to help other teachers with a topic that I knew would benefit their students.
Now, I have presented many times in a variety of ways. I am still learning and growing in my presentation skills! In fact, I sign myself up for these opportunities so I can get better each time.
If you are scared about presenting, that means you need to do it! You might think that other teachers know the same things that you do and teach, but that is simply not true. What comes naturally to you in the classroom might be a struggle for someone else. Your ideas are needed!
Need an extra push? When you present at conferences, you often get a discount on the conference fee and other cool opportunities. Sign up with that teacher bestie you are going to go with anyway, and jump in head first!
About the Author
Naomi Meredith is a former classroom teacher turned current K-5 STEM teacher and coach. Her role not only includes teaching over 500 students in her school, but also leading professional development and co-teaching with teachers to help them integrate STEM & Technology.
With over a decade of experience along with a M.Ed. in STEM Leadership and STEM certificate, she helps teachers navigate the best practices, strategies and tools out there.
She truly believes that any teacher out there can learn how to use STEM & Technology in their classrooms effectively. She can’t wait to connect with you and be your guide!