CSTA just announced the Call for Proposals.
Why should you considering submitting a proposal?
The most rewarding part of the process is actually not presenting at the conference (although yeah it’s pretty cool in itself)….but the best part is creating and building your application. It requires you to define exactly what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. And then it can’t just be you who think it’s awesome; you have to provide evidence that you are actually meeting the goals and results you say you are.
There is something satisfying about spending the time, and yes you will spend many hours, figuring out how to best explain and describe what you do. It forces you to ask tough questions: is what I am doing important? Will my professional peers see value in it as well? Is what I say I do really what I do? Is the impact really as powerful as I think it is? Are the results I am seeing reliable and valid? Is my innovation really an outlier? Will others appreciate my work and ideas? Will I be able to communicate what my project is really about?
It forces you to choose the project or topic you are most proud of in your work as a K-12 educator. It forces you to document the entire process–the preparation, the activity itself, and then actual results or completed work or evidence. It may involve interviewing students about their experience. It might be you have a completed paper. Maybe you just have some new ways of looking at something we all do in our classrooms. Perhaps you have figured out some new technology which you are excited about. Maybe you are passionate about a topic related to CS education, such as diversity, inclusion, the digital divide, or access. Is there some research you are proud of? Perhaps you have built something you’d like to share. Maybe you and some colleagues want to lead a panel discussion?
It forces you to create presentation ready resources and documentation so that others may find out more.
What I’ve found is that in most cases, as I am describing the project and the experience, I am also evaluating it myself and actually thinking of ways to enhance it.
And it’s a gutsy move. You are putting your everything out there for your peers to see, and you are saying this is the best I’ve got. Then your peers evaluate that and decide if it meets the criteria for the national stage. You are going to stand before tens or even hundreds of people and share your experience. What an awesome opportunity.
There is also an element of perception. While your project might be amazing, is it relevant to the state of CS Education right now? Will others see the same value that you see? Are you presenting about a tremendous success you have had and want to share so that others may benefit, or are you presenting about your struggled and even failures so that other may learn and use your experience to leap pad their own ideas? Are there others with similar proposals?
If you are selected, what’s the reward? Vindication and validation that what you are doing matters, has value, and has been worthy of your time. Other professional in CS Ed have looked at what you do, and said, “Yes, this is something others need to know about and see.” What an honor to be part of the “leadership” of the conference. Those in the audience are there because they are genuinely interested in what you have to say. In some cases, this might the first people to hear about your experience. Those folks will challenge you on your ideas and ask you to help them explore the same thing. You will meet others who have the same unique passion and now, finally, you have others to collaborate with.
Now, here is the deal, I have submitted many proposals over the years. I have been rejected as often as accepted. In fact, I was rejected by CSTA several years ago– now I am a sitting board member. Go figure. Rejection is not to be looked at as a negative. A rejection is not saying your proposal is not good or not worthy. All it is saying is that there were other proposals which made more sense this year. Perhaps that exact same proposal is accepted immediately next year. Or maybe you go back, make some enhancement to the learning experience or project, and resubmit with an even stronger application. In some cases, you’ll get feedback from the reviewers with comments on the proposal evaluation.
But the best thing is you get one of those cool colored presenter tags for your badge.
See you at the CSTA annual conference in Phoenix, either from the podium or from the audience.