-The pressure was on for an EdTalk newbie like myself.

I can’t see myself out there in front of a crowd of people.  12-30 people for a workshop is a manageable crowd but 300 educators . . .  Whoa!  The pressure was on for an EdTalk newbie like myself.   2 months before this happen,  I’m at home, during summer vacation, watching previous Teacher Summit Edtalks from around California and TED Talks on Youtube.  I was feeling intimidated about how professional and rich these talks were. The first thing that came to mind was,

“How am I going to memorize a 15 minute talk?”

At the end of the day, I had an opportunity to share a piece of my craft and it was an empowering experience where I stayed true to myself, my strengths, my style, and my art. In this reflection, I’m going to break down this experience so that you see the process of what it takes to prep for an EdTalk.

The Call

I want to give credit to  Danny Chau, Dr. Eurania Lopez, and Arturo Espinosa for offering me this opportunity and coordinating this event.  What I learned is if you are offered an opportunity to put out your passion and ideas in a large forum, don’t think about it, TAKE IT and then deal with consequences later on because opportunities like this don’t come around often.  In the past 8 years,  I’ve been actively finding opportunities to share my passion outside of the school and district setting.  This was a first time where an opportunity was given.  I’ve been unexpectedly called to an adventure.

New Ideas = Critics

When you design a learning experience, I learned to always start off with knowing your users.  Who are they and what do they need?  What is the theme of this summit — CA Teacher Summer:  Better Together MORE THAN EVER.  This theme sounds big and it sounds urgent.  Everyone in that room is going to be an educator.

I freaked out about that because I already know how critical educator’s are when new ideas come out.  I hear negative gossips about new ideas and it brings me back to a situation where I put out an idea and it was automatically shut down.  It’s discouraging. How can any innovative soul(s) transform our educational system by shutting ideas off?  At the same time, it takes courage and strength be in an uncomfortable position to push your ideas out.  Discomfort is important growth factor. Without it, there is no push, grit, and growth.

Don’t Bore People

In planning out the edtalk, I started off with a quick write. By the end of the 2nd paragraph I stopped and said, “I am going to bore my audience to death if I acted like Charlie Brown’s Teacher.”  That quote instantly brought me back to my gamification workshop that I did in Rhode Island called DEFEAT DARTH BOREDOM:  The Quest to Motivate Youth In Learning.   In developing this presentation,  I will reuse some of things I’ve already built from the workshop.


Octalysis Analysis of Defeat Darth Boredom

This also made me think about how to gamify this 15 minute Edtalk and what Core Drives from the Octalysis Model I can use to engage the educators in the room.  Click on the Octalysis image below to see how this EdTalk used the Core Drives from Octalysis Framework.

Finding Inspiration

The talk needed to be an adventure.  All adventures need to involve the participants otherwise they would be passive participants.  I wanted to model a variety of learning modalities from making, creative writing, storytelling, and gamification to involve, engage, and hopefully empower everyone to go back into the classroom to empower their learners.  It’s definitely a feature that is tedious to integrate and it needs to be package into something adventurous and digestible for the participants.

But then I was inspired by a piece of poetic work by Prince Ea and the way he uses words, rhyme, and music that I wanted to use that structure to involve the audience in the plot where I read 4 poems about the essences of empowerment.  I will make a video on those essences very soon on another post.

The Setting

The next part was modifying an existing PowerPoint presentation into more of a background to set the environment.  I was relieved that there were a lot of the graphics and sound that I reused which means that the rest of my work was reorganizing and testing until the PowerPoint Presentation was how I wanted it to be.  I wanted this Edtalk not to feel like a PowerPoint presentation but an adventure.

Practice Make Perfect

I was happy to be done with all the development, design, and prototyping and now it’s all about memorizing and being in character.  I was memorizing the script in the morning, at night, on BART, on MUNI, while walking my dogs, and in my sleep for a good week.

The Essence

Inspired by the Exploratorium Cardboard themed display, I had to build the essences of empowerment out of cardboard, LED Light,  duct tape and battery which took about 2 hours to make and I had to package about 300 DIY Light Saber kits made of clothing pins, LED lights, coin battery, and a straw.  Fortunately, I had a lot of coin batteries, straws, and LED lights so it was all about getting rid of them and all I had to buy was the clothing pins.  That took me another two hours to package.  I don’t know why but building things gives me an adrenaline rush so much that I go through tunnel vision.  This whole experience was a tunnel vision experience for the last half of July, which was an awesome  and stressful experience because I set high expectations of myself. I wanted to feel like I did this Edtalk justice.

Keep Calm and Carry On

I also had to rehearse.  After rehearsing on the stage in the space, I felt at home.  On the day of, I had major butterflies that I needed a space to rehearse and focus on being in character.  There was lot of mindfulness action and deep breathing in the back of the Annex prior to the Edtalk.   When it was my turn I had to remind myself

“What is grit?

 I didn’t want to think of it?

But no matter how hard it may seem,

First find your goal,

Then counted 1-2-3 . . . and JUMP

Find Your Grit.”

(An except from The Essence of Grit by Jacob Aringo)



Thank you for reading this reflection.  Below is the video edited by Dr. Guerra from SF State.   Also below is a gallery of pictures from the event thanks to Danny, David Cohen (another EdTalk Speaker you should watch), Ms. Young, and the College of Education from San Francisco State University.  I also want to thank the tech crew and video crew.  As a tech crew at Hoover Middle School, making the person on stage look good and sound good is hard work.  Enjoy and have a wonderful school year with your children.  Happy Teaching.