It was an honor to represent Mastery Manager at the Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) Conference 2017: Learn. Do. Iterate. Just like last year, I enjoyed connecting with many educators who currently use Mastery Manager, as well as those looking for an assessment solution and not familiar with all we have to offer. Some teachers simply stopped to say “hi” (while taking one of our epic swag pens!), whereas others wanted to chat about new Mastery Manager features. I couldn’t keep track of how many fellow educators spoke glowingly of Mastery Manager; some went as far as saying, “Your Student Growth Module has changed my life!” The experience left me energized and inspired, because the reaction that educators have about our company is truly inspiring. It helps us all, at Mastery Manager, know we have a true impact on student learning. Teachers rely on us to provide timely data to guide instruction in their classrooms.
The number of educators stopping by our ICE 2017 booth didn’t go unnoticed. At one point, we had lines of people waiting to talk to us about the benefits of the system. Vendors with high tech gadgets seemed to have long lines too, but what really impacted me was that our booth didn’t have an 80-inch widescreen showcasing the latest VR technology; our booth had one very important slogan, “The Last Assessment System You Will Ever Need,” which struck a chord with many educators. Data, as we all know, is very important these days, but seeing just how important it was to the everyday teacher was a surprise. I often heard comments like, “Data is here to stay,” and, “I need to know how my kids are doing on certain standards,” during my time at ICE 2017. These comments made me realize that some teachers, even in today’s data-driven environment, do not have the proper tools to collect, analyze, and put the data into action. As the number of visitors increased, one more thought occurred to me: “If these educators have no system in place for student data, then what are they doing for their student growth needs?”
Student growth was on the minds of several teachers, and many were visibly frustrated with the lack of resources to help showcase their student growth. Seeing their frustration helped answer the one question that I wrestled with prior to the conference: What topic will best meet the needs of teachers at my presentation? Even after deciding on the session topic, student growth, I still questioned if it was impactful enough at a tech conference. However, after the first day filled with data questions, I felt my student growth topic was spot on. I presented on tackling SLOs in 4 easy steps. This included a mixture of my own experience with student growth when I was in the classroom and how our system addresses the needs of teachers. The presentation clearly resonated with those in attendance! I was able to share our solution for student growth needs and answer specific questions on how schools can bring in Mastery Manager as their assessment solution. My biggest take-away was that when you boil it all down, novelty of fancy gadgets at exhibitor booths may steal the show, but the foundation of education eventually wins out. All educators, no matter their circumstance, ultimately have one absolute in mind: to help students achieve. At Mastery Manager, that is our core motto: doing our part to increase the level of student learning. After ICE 2017, not only do I feel inspired by the teachers I met, but I also feel proud to know that what we’re developing at Mastery Manager has made a huge impact on education and we’ll continue to innovate to meet the needs of educators.