Growing an Apple Distinguished Educator

Leaving my kids is never easy. From September to June I look forward to and long for slow Summer mornings and warm Summer days. Having this time to reconnect with my kids and family after a busy school year is a magnificent gift. Taking time to play, laugh, think, explore, learn, and be together is…well… it’s the BEST! But, this year, my Summer started off a little more frazzled, and me-centric than past years… and I loved it.

In April of this year I learned that I was accepted to become an Apple Distinguished Educator. I was one of 35 Canadians to join the group of roughly 2100 ADE’s throughout the world. This small, close, and remarkable community opens up for new applications every two years, and this was my year! I was (am) honoured and overjoyed to be recognized as an ADE and I wanted to do everything I could to make the most of the academy experience, so when the request for showcase presenters came up, I thought, “hey, why not!”

ADE Showcase = a timed and spotlit 3 minute presentation.

I had no idea what a showcase was and although I am not a novice presenter, the last time I did a timed presentation (IGNITE! at IT4K12 in November 2016), I promised myself I would never do another.  So, in true Adi fashion, I saw a challenge and opportunity and went for it.

3 minute countdown clock, a podium, a dark room, and a spotlight shining down… on me.  Sounds fun, right?!

About 3 weeks before the Academy, I learned I was approved to present. I connected with my ADE mentor and after a quick discussion, the creative process began. I had an idea of what I wanted to talk about, but getting my ideas down to 3 minutes felt like an impossible task. I madly worked on the weekends and evenings until I finally had a solid presentation. After my initial run through with my mentor, I took my rehearsing seriously. I had a little over a week before leaving for the Academy, so every free moment was dedicated to practicing and rehearsing.   

Three days before leaving for my first ADE experience, I had an inspiring and eye opening conversation with a dear and insightful friend.

His exact words: “It’s good, but it’s pretty vanilla.”

I needed to do more to connect with the audience. I needed to make it more concise. I needed to tell a story.

I took his feedback to heart and with less than 3 days before leaving, recreated my showcase.

There’s a saying; something like – “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

This is true for any writing. 3 minutes is short and sweet. I needed time (that I didn’t have) to create a story (that I could memorize) for a spotlit presentation (72 hours away). With the support of my amazing husband and the curiosity of my wonderful kids, I began to write and draw version 2 of my showcase.

I’m not one to leave things to the last minute, so the stress of recreating was both invigorating and exhausting. (I loved it).

On Thursday (2 days before leaving) I emailed my mentor and let her know that I had made a change. On Friday morning I sent her my first draft, and on Saturday, while in the air, flying to the Academy, I (mostly) completed my presentation, 2.0.

Sunday – Day 1.

We had a wonderful kick off. The energy empowering and the conversations dynamic. We split into our first set of workshops. My selections – research and stories. Both sessions left lasting impressions and delivered impactful ideas that I am excited to test out in September. We had our first set of Showcase presenters that afternoon – they were fantastic and so exciting to watch – I felt like I was in their shoes, nervous as the countdown clock neared its final seconds…

It was invigorating and exhilarating to see this gamification of presenting coming to life. My presentation was fast approaching, so I took every free moment I had and rehearsed.

Monday – Day 2

Monday morning was my go time. I knew my what to say, I knew my slides, and I knew I had no more time. I practiced in front of the mirror, rehearsing the timing and focused on my cadence and expression, but what can prepare you for a dark room, a spotlight, and a glaring countdown clock?  I was ready, nervous, and so excited to share.

It felt like an out of body experience, sitting on the sidelines, in the dark waiting for my turn to present. I reminded myself, “take deep breaths, calm you knees, smile and have fun.” As I listened to the other inspirational calls to action and stories of change and thought, “Will my story make sense and will it be remembered?”

Before I knew it, I was heading up to the podium, one slow step at a time. As my opening slide went up, I took a deep breath and worked hard to calm my shaky voice. I could barely see over the podium and the spotlight was shining brightly into my eyes, but I had the clicker in hand and was ready to tell my tale.  

2:55 seconds later, it was over, and I felt fine. Like fine wine fine. My ADE experience had been consumed with preparing for these 175 seconds, and I felt amazing (because it went well, and because it was over). The experience, the struggle, the thinking, and the preparing are part of what made my ADE experience so fantastic. I took a risk, rose to the challenge, made an impact on my time at the Academy, and worked with outstanding educators, mentors and Apple team members. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The rest of the day felt like a blur, a warm and wonderful blur. With an invigorating hip shaking session at the end of Emmanuel Jal’s powerful talk, I was ready to #clips the day away.

Tuesday – Day 3

The morning began with another great round of Showcases – plenty of hot tips and takeaways. And ended with laughs, hugs, and see you soon’s. In true Apple fashion, we were clapped out and awarded a beautiful glass plaque. Photos and smiles followed, and just like that, I blinked, and I was on my way home.  

Thinking back on the experience, my take aways are bigger than the events, the workshops, and the projects – the usual “what’s” that drive people to a professional development opportunity. The “who’s” and “why’s” fill my memories, and the conversations, relationships, opportunities, and potential are what I will return for.

Becoming an ADE has been a dream for many years. I had always held the ADE recognition as the pinnacle of an innovative and dedicated educator. Without fail, every ADE I met along my professional journey, felt like meeting a kind, open, and knowledgeable celebrity. And now, I get to stand along side these special educators, questioning, embracing, and leaping together.


Download the book version of my ADE Showcase

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s