This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend my very first ISTE Conference. I remember following the hashtag last year and all the great resources that were shared and I knew I just had to check it out in person. My passion for learning fuels me not only as an educator but also as a person, so I was so excited to kick off my summer break with a conference!
Over the past year, I have connected virtually with many educators through Twitter. I constantly read blog posts, tweets, articles, and professional books. I have attended conferences I never would have known existed had I not been connected. I have been afforded the opportunity to meet extraordinary educators as well on this journey. I have learned so much in just the past year and I am so grateful for this gift I have been given. On a daily basis, I continue to be inspired and motivated by so many. So imagine my delight when #ISTE14 finally began!
My first day at the convention center, I took my time getting the "lay of the land," so I could navigate the sessions I had put into my ISTE app. I will admit, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of the conference. During this process, I began playing the Networking Game. This was a great ice-breaker activity for me, as I can tend to be shy in settings where I do not personally know a single soul! During this time, I connected with Dennis Grice @dgrice who was kind enough to share with me not only about himself and his school but also about what learning looked like in one of his 3rd grade classrooms. I was so excited to see in person how students at his school integrated nonfiction reading, research, and report writing into video segments. This idea and process is something I can't wait to share with teachers in my building! I immediately began following him on Twitter. This way, if I have questions or need additional information, I know how to contact him.
I have to say, as an ISTE newbie, I had no idea that you needed to get a space in line for the IGNITE session, so imagine my sheer disappointment to have missed it. And, add to that all the Tweets I followed during and after the IGNITE session that proclaimed how awesome it was. Having felt a little deflated, I opted to finally check-in to my hotel room.
Imagine my surprise & delight when I had the opportunity to meet up with the Remind101 Team (@RemindHQ) in my hotel lobby! I was excited to share how we will be using this tool in the district for the upcoming year as well as to learn about the new features that have been added. It was great to share the use of the tool from the view of a building principal as well as features that would also benefit all users. What a dynamic team! Their energy and excitement was palpable for their product. But most importantly, they asked users questions and sought feedback. They shared ideas and were open to others' ideas. Because of this, I was even more impressed with the team and am planning to promote the use of their app to teachers and administrators in my "neck of the woods." (Plus, I received an awesome new T-shirt to wear & other goodies to share)!
Back at the convention center, I made my way to the Bloggers' Cafe. Not only did I get to meet more people, but I had the great fortune to connect in person with @RafranzDavis Rafranz was one of the first people I followed on Twitter and over the past year, she and I have connected virtually on parenting, the TV show Scandal, shopping in Texas, and of course, Tweetchats. Meeting her in person was a true delight! We immediately hugged one another and "caught up" in person. Whether she realizes it or not, our conversation had a huge impact on me. So much so, I have started a future blog post about it! However, I wasn't the only one inspired to write. Check out Rafranz's blog post
As if my day couldn't get any better, I FINALLY got to hear @gcouros in person! George was also one of the people I followed on Twitter early. He has helped shaped my perspective on using Twitter to share both professionally and personally. He has influenced my thoughts on technology in the classroom and inspired me to blog. And while, I don't yet define myself as a blogger, I know because of his influence, I am finding my voice. George's session on "Conquering the Myths of Technology" challenged me to re-think my own preconceived notions about technology, specifically "We Shouldn't Talk to Strangers" and "New Technology Will Replace Face-to-Face Interactions." The points he made under these topics resonated with me, giving me new perspectives. His session also moved me to tears- more than once. My copious notes from his session will be shared with my staff as well as my district's new middle school principal, who is rolling out 1:1 in her building this year. In addition to meeting George, before and after his session, I was able to meet & connect with Ginny Britt (@techladytn) and George Champlin (@GChamplinAP). I'm excited to learn with these two educators! As if that wasn't enough, George's fiancee @PaigeBrimacombe was also present. While I had never "officially" followed her on Twitter, since she is a grade 4 teacher, I would often check out what she was doing & sharing in her classroom as well as her edublog page. As a former grade 3 & grade 4 teacher, I always feel some sort of innate connection with teachers of these age levels. I so enjoyed listening to each of their journeys and passions. These four personal connections made this one of my favorite sessions at #ISTE14 this year!
In my next post, I will share about others I met at the #ISTE14 Conference that had an impact on me as a person and as an educator. I want to thank Dennis, Brett Kopf and his team, Ginny Britt, George Champlin, George Couros, Paige Brimacombe, and Rafranz Davis for making the connection and for expanding their circle of influence.