I just got home from San Diego last night. The long flight gave me time to think and process my week at ISTE. While I didn't attend many sessions (in fact none that I wasn't a part of), I still found it a most beneficial conference. So what did I get out of it?
First and foremost, I got the chance to connect and reconnect with like-minded educators. Many people talk about the problem with speaking to the choir. This echo chamber created by conferences being attended, run, and presented by the same people can lead to conversations being repeated over and over. But, for me, it is the only place I find other educators who believe in change in education the way I do. It is the only place I find others who work in their classrooms, schools, districts, areas to create learning environments that are different, unique, and beneficial to students. And it is the only place I can go to hear that I am not crazy for doing what I do all year.
Next, I got the opportunity to learn about new tools and upgraded programs while strolling through the Exhibition Hall. I know that many people avoid the vendors at all costs. And some vendors I wouldn't give the time of day to (Pearson, I hope you're listening!). But there are some favorites that I love to visit. BrainPop gave me the chance to hug all my BP friends. Fablevision had me talking with an interested teacher and I got a t-shirt! Edmodo showed me ways to use the site that I hadn't known before. Glogster informed me that coming this summer are new features, such as collaborative glogs. Evan Moor showed me the new portal they created for the workbooks I use with my students. And I got two of them just for showing up. And KidBlog creator, Matt Hardy, treated me to lunch and showed me how amazing his blog platform is. I might actually switch and try it out, even though I really do love Dave Warlick and ClassBlogmeister.
I also enjoyed the presentations I was part of. While the Ignite session was the scariest presentation I have ever gone through, the rest of the presentations were so amazing that it was wonderful to be part of the audience. I was especially blown away by Traci House, Director of Technology, at Joplin Schools, who had to rebuild the school system after a series of tornadoes destroyed much of the town. I was also part of a panel discussion for Kristin Hokanson's Copyright Confusion session. It not only gave me the chance to review Fair Use Policy, but allowed me to hear from the audience about their confusion. It's a good reminder for when I teach educators in my own district. And, of course, there was the Blogging session I did with Brian Crosby. It not only reinforced for me how much I love working with other teachers, but gave us an opportunity to talk about our new ISTE book on blogging.
|Adina and Me Dancing on the Roof|
I might not see ISTE the way others do. I didn't sit in every keynote, run from presentation to presentation, win any great prizes. But the meet ups, the Blogger's Cafe, the hallway conversations, and the connections were well worth my time and money. I love this conference and really hope to see everyone in San Antonio next year. What about you?