I've been home for a day and still thinking and dreaming about everything that happened at NECC08. So here are my final thoughts...maybe then I will be able to move on. After all, the K-12 Online Conference is coming up soon.
1. The Network
Of course I have to talk about the networking. I knew going to NECC that I was most excited about meeting face to face people in my network. What I didn't realize was just how important that face to face contact is. Jo McLeay is someone I follow in twitter and communicate with at times. But meeting at NECC got us talking about a collaboration. Now we have a plan for a really cool project that will fit in nicely with our geography unit in the fall. I doubt this would have happened without meeting f2f. Cheri Toledo is another person who I follow in twitter. She came through for me once when I needed a sounding board for a class I was preparing. I meet her face to face and find out she is the nicest, most supportive person. Plus, she's really funny. I enjoyed talking to her and seeing her in Blogger's Cafe. Julie Lindsay is someone I follow who, I'm sure, never had any idea who I was before NECC. But I went up and introduced myself to her anyway. Yes, I was one of those annoying people who said hello to everyone. Go ahead and hate me for that. Anyway, Julie actually spent time talking to me. We talked about projects I wanted to do but had hurdles. She knew exactly how to help me jump those hurdles. Now I am ready to move forward with some great projects, thanks to her.
Of course, I loved actually meeting the people I communicate with the most. Brian Crosby, Alice Mercer, Ginger Lewman, Kevin Honeycutt, Cheryl Lykowski, and Maria Knee - I loved tightening up our network. We might not have had the long, deep conversations there that we have online but we did have fun.
And I made some connections even tighter. Derrall Garrison, Adina Sullivan, Scott Meech, Vinny Vrotny, Linda Nitsche, Stephanie Sandifer, Sue Tapp, Chris Champion, and Kristin Hokanson - I loved connecting with all of you face to face. And now I have some more blogs to add to my blogroll. I really want to keep hearing your voices. I'm sorry if I forgot anyone but the week is such a blur. And I love you all. Really.
2. The Conversations
I loved the conversations that went on during lunch, at dinner, during a river walk, on a bus ride. These were the conversations where we discussed how to bring in more of our colleagues, how to use PBL more in class, what we were doing that demonstrated best practices. We talked about upcoming conferences and on what our districts focus. We had discussions about our administration, our colleagues, our students. We talked about our families and homes. We really connected and I found myself learning more during these conversations than I did at the sessions I attended.
3. NECC Unplugged
I spent most of my time at Blogger's Cafe and NECC Unplugged. I truly didn't mean to. I spent all this money on the conference and wanted to attend all the sessions but somehow, the timing was always off or the session was closed out or the people in Blogger's Cafe were a bigger draw. So I stayed and learned. Kristin Hokanson talked about Fair Use. Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay talked about the Flat Classroom Project. Brian Crosby talked about skyping in the classroom. And those were just a few of the presentations I attended. I liked the closeness of the learning. I hated the background noise. And, sometimes, I was a contributer to the background noise. I apologize to all who were presenting when I started having a conversation with someone during your presentation.
4. What I Wish I Had Done
I wish I had gone into some of the BYOL sessions. I wanted to learn more about how to use tools. But I never made it. Something always got in the way. Next year, I will not spend so much time in Blogger's Cafe. I will not spend so much time networking and saying hello to people. I will learn how to use Scratch (unless I actually teach myself before then) and Moodle (unless Bethany, who I met at NECC, decides to help me learn). I am going to spend lots of time this summer going through all the ustream archives from the conference.
I wish I had spent more time talking to Steve Dembo about how much I love the DEN and how I want it to change. Talking to him about it as we were saying goodbye was not a good plan. And it is an organization I love and would love to help improve, even through conversation.
I wish I had told Steve Hargadon how important Classroom 2.0 actually is. I send all new teachers there. It started me on this journey and I wanted him to know this.
I wish I had toured the Alamo. I never seemed to have the time during the day. It was right there, I teach a whole unit on the acquisition of Texas and the relevance of the Alamo and never made it inside. I did get pictures of the outside, though.
5. How I Feel Now That I'm Home
I loved talking to people about what I do and having them know what I was talking about. I loved finding people who want to join in collaborations. I loved (okay I know this is a bit childish) the recognition I received for what I do in the classroom. And, I am a bit resentful that the people I work with year after year have no idea that what I do is important and successful. I know I should just be happy with what I do and be grateful that I am able to knock down the walls of the classroom. But I really want others in the district to join in and take their students into the 21st century. And I really want to teach them how to get there. But first my district has to see me the way my network does. It's difficult coming home from NECC to be "just a teacher" again. I can't wait until the next conference.