A few days ago, I wrote a blog post called "Circle of Influence- Part I." In this blog post, I began detailing my first ISTE experience, specifically focused on the people I was able to meet in person. There were simply too many educators who made a significant impact on me during my first ISTE conference to write about in one post. So, here I am a few days later adding to the list of people who influenced me at ISTE.
I would be negligent, if I didn't mention the excitement I felt meeting Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) in person! I have followed his blog for over a year now and often will "lurk" on the #iaedchat (And Jimmy, if you're reading this, I promise I will do more than lurk in the future). Jimmy has been a principal for 20 years and as such, is someone whose experiences and expertise I often turn to as a beginning principal. Jimmy has challenged many educators to "Be the Change" and has emphasized the importance of relationship building and being positive. His philosophy is something I embrace whole-heartedly, but I will admit that I often struggle in my role as building principal. There are times I get so "bogged down" in the issues or problems of others, it is hard for me to take a step back and remember my purpose. Those are the times, I turn to principals like Jimmy; whose energy, passion, and perspectives inspire me. I am forever thankful to have had the opportunity to tell Jimmy about his impact on me in person. I know I will continue to be inspired by Jimmy and I only hope that as I grow as a leader, I will be of inspiration to someone else.
There are some educators that I am close friends with who do not quite "get" Twitter. I continue to share with them the things I see and try to show them its value. If ever there was an example of the power of Twitter during ISTE for me, it was in a simple tweet by Matt Miller (@MentorSuper). Matt is the superintendent of Mentor Public Schools in Ohio and I have followed him for quite some time. Matt's tweet led me to ask if he, too, was present at ISTE. I was delighted to find out that he was and we made plans to meet up the following day. During my first venture into the EXPO, I gravitated toward the bus, where educators were writing what they thought education would be like in 20 years. As I was reading, I noticed the #onceacard. This hashtag is the hashtag that Matt uses for his district. Why is this significant? Well, as I explained to Matt when I finally had the chance to meet him, by using this hashtag, he has connected current educators within his district, as well as current & former students. This simple hashtag has instilled a sense of pride for their district, uniting them. But more than that, the #onceacard is uniting the community! How incredibly powerful! Again, it's this sense of belonging/ relationship building between the school and the community that we continue to strive for, discuss, and emphasize as leaders. Matt and I had the opportunity to talk about a variety of things, including Mentor's initiatives as recipients of the Straight A grant in Ohio and the challenges of transitioning to the superintendency from an elementary perspective. As I consider this as a future endeavor, being able to speak with someone with a similar background in education is important to me. So, from a simple tweet, I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge and more importantly make a connection to someone I respect and admire. Thanks, Matt, for taking the time to meet with me and I look forward to collaborating with you and your elementary schools in the upcoming year!
The final source of inspiration comes from Sean Junkins (@sjunkins) and his team from Horry County. While I didn't have the opportunity to meet Sean in person (as he was working with another educator at the time), the information I gained from his team will be of great value to the principal of our district's middle school. Sean and his team did a Poster Session on Innovating with iPads in Middle School. While my district will not utilize iPads, being able to discuss the pros and cons of devices in a middle school setting was invaluable. Tips given for how to troubleshoot issues for misuse or loss of a device; discipline policies; recommendations for professional development for teachers and changes to be made for future endeavors were shared. All of these helpful hints will be shared with my team and because Sean and his team were so willing to share with me/us, we can learn from and with them during our 1:1 initiative in the district.
ISTE was a very positive experience for me. As a newbie, I am grateful for the warm reception I received from all the participants and presenters. I learned so much and am excited to share my learning and experiences with others. However, it was the personal connections I made with educators like Jimmy Casas and Matt Miller that made ISTE a powerful conference. Thanks to everyone whom I had the pleasure to meet, as I am forever impacted in a positive way by our interactions. Next time, I will be sharing my personal reflection on a single conversation that had the most impact and allowed me to have such a great experience at ISTE.