Sunday, 25 March 2018

Learning from the front of the room- a reflection from IMPACT, the PSA Convention 2018

I am a full time teacher and last weekend I attended the Professional Speakers Association Convention in Brisbane, Australia. I went as I was invited by my friend (thanks Karen!) and was offered the opportunity to present a small piece in a workshop during the weekend (thanks Glenn!).

As I was heading into the convention I was feeling like a fish in the desert (that's how far out of the water I was feeling), I was thinking "I am a teacher at a professional speakers convention... what on earth am I doing here???" However to say that the weekend was inspirational feels like an understatement really. It was huge and I am still trying to get my head around it all to be honest but for now I hope to convey some of what I learned as a teacher in this post.

We started with a session for newbies to the convention, what a relief to be around others who were feeling a bit out of their comfort zone. As it turned out there were people from all walks of life and the more people I spoke to over the weekend the more I realised just how diverse the attendees were... we all have a journey and what we bring right now is the sum of our experience to date. Regardless of background there was a sense of camaraderie and genuine interest in each other, even a newbie like me. It became clear to me that as teachers we stand to learn so much by stepping out of education and listening to people in different industries, over the weekend I learned from hair dressers, teachers, performers, hotel managers, scientists, engineers, lawyers, health experts, trainers, sportspeople to name a few. And it wasn't only those on the stage, it was also talking to the people standing around the kiwi ice cream freezer at the opening supper, the cleaner in the bathrooms where I was having a last run through of my presentation, the folk on the dance floor at the formal dinner, people who were sitting around the tables at various sessions and workshops, as well as the fabulous shop attendant at a nature's discovery type store where I grabbed a couple of items for school (as you do!). Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has wisdom... we just have to listen.

And so here are a lot of snapshot ideas that I picked up over the weekend that I think are relevant to us in the classroom (and much of it in life really)... I may end up elaborating more at some stage but for now I will run with sound bytes as there is just so much information that I am still digesting.

My IMPACT PSA Convention sound bytes for teachers (and other people too):

  • Fall in love with language 
  • Learn new languages (there are 6000 languages in the world and 90% are endangered) 
  • We were welcomed by Robert Henderson, a Wiradjuri elder. Where we come from is important and honouring the people of a place is important. Using the language of a people and a place is powerful. 
  • The Eyes of Wonder=The Look of Learning 
  • Be more awesome 
  • Use sign language- use our bodies to conduct our classroom like a conductor brings the egos of an orchestra together to create beautiful harmonious music 
  • Be BRAVE 
  • When creating a presentation be clear on what you want the people you are working with to feel, to act on after and to remember  
  • Consider what is your most disabling thought and then identify what the most empowering statement is about yourself (I am now working on the second bit... it's a challenge) 
  • Strive less, allow more 
  • Be your best self 
  • Fear is a reaction- Courage is a choice 
  • Look for opportunities rather than getting hung up on difficulties 
  • Design laughter into your presentations... think about how you connect and motivate and be brave
  • Take the stage you've got and start from there 
  • How we feel about ourselves is what we project of ourselves to the world 
  • It's your life- would you like to take responsibility for that? 
  • Trust yourself, don't be afraid to be you- be real
  • Are you managing classes or leading learning? Managing= work, leading=learning. 
  • Be interested in just about anything 
  • Beautiful questions are powerful 
  • There are more choices in front of you than you think 
  • Change the picture, change the results 
  • What are your beliefs? These are the thoughts we hold to be true and they drive our behaviour 
  • Write and read obsessively around those things that you are inspired by 
  • Gratitude helps to balance out 'constructive discontent', the feeling that there's always more to do 
  • Ask yourself "does this excite me?" 
  • Love is a commitment- it isn't a feeling 
  • Rather than working from a beat myself up mode when it doesn't work, go into a how can I build it better mode 
  • Pursue everything that tickles your fancy 
  • What makes you beautiful? What makes what you do beautiful? Find the beauty in yourself... be YOU! 
  • Make a decision about how you show up in the world. 
  • How often do we overlook the simple to make complex stuff? 
  • What is the feedback you are getting from your audience (or class)? 
  • Focus on what you love... don't complain, celebrate the opportunity instead 
  • Less is more! Give people time to explore, feel and contemplate. Less content, more elaboration. 
  • Start to stop- let go- simplify 
  • Influence and manipulation are the same in process but intent and outcome are different... be an influencer! 
  • With structure (process) I can be flexible with my focus 
  • The brain learns by suggestion... prime and nudge 
  • Where there's judgement let there be empathy 
  • Use language carefully- create modifiers e.g. 'what you might do...?' or ' I invite you to...' Invite instead of commanding. 
  • Use we/us instead of I/me 
  • Remember it is the group's group not your group- watch them and respect what they are telling you about how far you can push someone in the group 
  • How do you turn up? Ask 'what can I do for this group of people?', have a sense of humanity, visualise energy, know that you are here to serve. 
  • Use the light of day test- would you make this decision if it were to be held up for all the world to see? 
  • Give ourselves permission to dare to be different 
  • Do the inner work first- find your inner super hero
  • Consider how you manage your energy to work with others as your best 
  • Come burning into the present moment- have a strong centre, open heart and clear mind 
  • Use props to enhance your message 
  • Throw energy to the back of the group and everyone will sense it 
  • Story is powerful- be creative in telling, use words powerfully 
  • Don't be afraid to be vulnerable 
  • Your brand is your identity and your message- telling the world what you do and how you do it... to get people on board sympathise with their pain (challenges) and sell the problem, pain and solution you offer 
  • Ways to engage... simplicity, close ups, metaphors and surprise 
  • Questions are more important than answers, visuals are more important than verbal 
  • Catchphrase "I am glad you asked" 
  • Perfectionism will keep you in the slow lane
  • Make sure your head is where your feet are 
  • Reflection on learning: what is loud (epic) for you? what is soft (intimate) for you?  
Goodness that is a long list! As you can see from these snapshots it really was an epic weekend. I left feeling like I was floating on air... so inspired, profoundly moved and challenged to do more of what I love, and to do what I do better. IT IS TIME... 

If there is anything here that resonated for you I would love to know... sharing is caring :) As I work through this list myself I may even write more about some of these concepts and ideas to share my learning journey with you. 

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