Making lasting connections at the EMEA SEE Summit
By Mike McGowan
After a fun-filled first day at the SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) Summit representing EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), day two had no shortage of information and activities to share and so with the attendees from all over the world.
We started out with a presentation about the new SMART Notebook app for iPad. It was nice to see the thoughts and ideas behind where this is going and why they are going the way that they are with the app. We unfortunately did not get to play with the app but that is okay as it will be here soon enough.
The day continued with a presentation from Sergio Garcia, a professor from Madrid, Spain, who spoke about augmented and mixed realty in the classroom. His thoughts, examples and insights were very interesting. After lunch we started day two of the SEE Show and Share where I got more great ideas from my fellow SEEs who showed and shared how they use SMART products in the classroom.
Then Jennifer Uhl, a fellow North American SEE from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan talked about SMART Showcase Schools and how her school became the SMART Showcase School of the year. Then Irina Wißmann, a vice principal in Berlin, Germany spoke about organizing a SMART User Day. The day ended with a presentation from Ainoha Marcos, SMART’s Education Programs Manager in EMEA, on Content Creation workshops. There was some great feedback shared from fellow SEEs about this – great questions and great suggestions on making these workshops a success. After the summit we headed to La Cocina for a team building exercise, which was a cooking class. Nothing says team building like cooking meat and breaking bread with others.
So far, the best part of this summit has not been the activities, presentations or talks. Yes, they have been important and we have all learned a lot from them. But the bonds and relationships we are forming during this time together has been the best. We have had SEEs meet and hang out for less than 24 hours and you would think they were best friends and colleges.
I myself have made many new friends that I know I will be in contact with for years to come. We have bonded over our talks during the summit, our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Or just hanging out till the late hours of the night or early hours of the morning, depending on how you look at it.
We have made connections that I know will help us all grow in our professions. We’ve created a pipeline for information and help, and built friendships with stories that we will be able to reminisce about for a long time to come. I will be the first to admit that coming over from the US, I thought it might be a hard with the cultural and language barriers we would have to face. But in the end, I feel that is what has made this experience so great, and it hasn’t been a problem at all. We have had long conversations about day to day life in our schools, the problems we all face, and the problems we each have in common that we have lent our advice to. We have learned a lot about each others cultural and language – everything from the craziness of George Clooney’s foreign voice over person, to the difference in how our school calendars are set up and the impact that has on our students, and how different budget concerns in different countries have many different effects on schools.
We have one more full day together. Look out for a blog post from Boris Berlijn, the Twitter-crazy SEE from the Netherlands. That will be the last day to share and learn from each other face to face, but I know it will not stop there. Our friendships and sharing will continue well past us saying our goodbyes on Friday.
This will be an experience I will never forget as I will always have the friendships to remind me of this phenomenal experience.
Attending the first EMEA SEE Summit… day one done!
About the author
Mike McGowan has been the Supervisor of Technology at Lincoln Elementary School Dist 156 in Calumet City, IL for the past four years. He also teaches Educational Technology classes at the University of St. Francis. Prior to McGowan’s current position, he was a classroom teacher for five years teaching Computers and Business to students in Pre-K through high school.
McGowan is the 2012 SMART Exemplary Educator of the year for the U.S. and he’s a SMART Certified Trainer on SMART Notebook 11 collaborative learning software, SMART Response interactive response system, SMART Notebook math tools software, SMART Sync classroom management software, the SMART Table interactive learning center, SMART Ideas concept mapping software, and SMART Classroom Suite interactive learning software. He’s also a SMART Certified Lesson Developer, SMART Certified Interactive Teacher, and SMART Certified Education Administrator.
McGowan has presented all over the state of Illinois on variety of topics including the full gambit of SMART products and Web 2.0 tools. He has recently started a few websites including MikesTechnologyCloset.com to help teachers across the globe find resources and help on a variety of tools to use in their classrooms. Mike’s next goal in education is to write a book on effective uses of technology in the classroom.