A run through of my experience at the Microsoft Global Educator exchange

So, it is going to take more than one post to work my way through all my thoughts from this amazing experience, so I thought I would do a basic walk through of what we did each day to try and get my thoughts in order

Getting there

It was agonizing to watch everyone leaving for Seattle while we were still in NZ. Right from the get go, #msfteduE2 was buzzing with pics of people starting there adventures. It was a really nice touch at the opening of the meeting that they showed a collage of lots of different tweets and facebook posts of the various countries making there was there, and the tweet I posted of the NZ crew made it up onto the board

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The NZ crew of me, Steve Martin, Anne Taylor, Nikkie Laing and Ben Hilliam. Shane Mann left earlier and meet us there.


On the Tuesday I left the hotel at 8:00am for the Microsoft recording studios, which were at the Redmond Town Center. I was filming a video on how to embed PHeT animations into Office Mix presentations.

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At the studio

The strangest thing about the filming was I was under very bright lights, while the others where in darkness. So it was weird to be following instructions from people I couldn’t see. I was also following a script that wasn’t quite as natural as if I was just talking about how I’d do it. But it was still pretty cool

Then in the afternoon I sat my Microsoft Certified Educator exam. It was fairly straight forward but with some tricksy questions around the wording. Then it was back to the hotel for a quick trip to shops and then the welcome reception – where it was great to meet some people face to face that I had already connected with online.

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LEGO anyone!! Pick ‘n’ mix lego is rad

2015-04-29 08.31.10 Free hot chocolates whenever you like – why hello!! Compostable cups too


Wednesday morning was something else. We all got on the bus from the hotel, had some breakfast and then got a marching band to take us to our first session. I have never been in anything like it.

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We then had an unreal first session – we were all given a drum and there was a drumming team on stage. The jetlag was telling me it was 3:00am, so it was uplifting but hard to concentrate. The noise was amazing, 250 odd people drumming in unison. I did feel it was a little over the top – but it was high energy way to kick things off.

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We then heard from Anthony Salcito, who is the VP of Microsoft education, before heading off to set up our teachmeet presentations. This was an amazing array of educators and learning ideas. It was awesome to talk to people about what they were doing, and in turn get some ideas about how to improve what I am doing.

We then had a session about building learning capacities for success. This was an fabulous session and will get a blog post on its own. Then it was off to meet our groups for the educator challenge.

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Gp 35 = from France, NZ, Hong Kong, Greece, Gautemala and Saudi Arabia.

We were given our task and got started.

Then we had regional dinners, and it was good to have some time to talk to the other NZers about there day, and meet some other APAC educators.


Thursday morning was the session I had really been looking forward to. Zaiuddin Yousafazi was the speaker, and he was AMAZING. So much forgiveness from a man who had been through so much. Again, he will get a blog post on his own.

We then had some specific sessions, I went to Office Mix, OneNote and Office 365. Some good tips and tricks, especially in the Office Mix session. After that it was back to work on our group project – then a look at some of the technology on show.

We then went to the Kent Tech Expo. This was amazing – a whole range of students, teachers and schools were at the Seattle Thunder stadium to share how they are using technology in their classrooms. I talked to heaps of students about what they are using and how it is helping them learn – my lasting impression was the confidence of the students explaining how the technology was helping them.

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Friday was a bit of a slog – I was up pretty late after returning from the expo trying to finish off our group project.

Thankfully the key note was Angela Maiers, who was passionate and energetic, so easy to get engaged with. She founded genius hour – a concept I really like and it is on the list to follow up with and spoke about her work with choose 2 matter.

It was then back to frantically finish off the last of the presentation – which was a LOT stressful, then our presentation, and then the pressure was off. I was able to enjoy the last session, which was an amazing ‘fireside chat’ with Toni and Satya – who are some pretty heavy duty big wigs at Microsoft. Again, probably a blog post in itself, but I was over awed by their presence – they just had an Aura about them, they spoke so well and were so knowledgable. Satya answered questions thoroughly and carefully – I was stoked when fellow kiwi Ben asked him about ‘what should I tell my students from NZ when they think they are far away from the action? (or something similar) and Satya knew that Microsoft had just purchased a company from NZ!! And talked about how technology had made the world a much more connected place and time/distance is not such a barrier as it once was.

Then we went back to the hotel, and I just peaced out and pack a bit. After such a frantic week, I needed the time. Then the buses arrived and it was off to the spectacular EMP museum in the center city for the awards dinner and gala. Part of the Museum was open for us to enjoy, the food was great, and it was awesome to be able to chat with all the other educators I had gotten to know over the week – as well as still meeting some new ones.

 2015-05-02 14.54.50 2015-05-02 15.00.312015-05-02 14.51.50There was a star wars costume exhibition – the nerd is strong 🙂 As well as Nirvana and Hendrix – was rad.

The event was topped off by getting an award in the Office Mix challenge – it really was something else to get to stand up on the stage with some other fabulous educators, and to see my name on the HUGE screen

mix award

Saturday – was a free day – I went into the town center, went to Pike Place markets, checked out the Pacific Science Museum (it was awesome) and rode on the monorail. And then it was off on the journey home.

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This T towel was $20 – was a near miss.

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At the Science Museum – was awesome

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Journey home – some tired faces in Auckland Airport at 5:30am

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Back home and a walk on the beach to get some sunlight to try and beat the jetlag

So overall – it was a simply amazing trip. Lots of ideas, lots of connections and an amazing experience.

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