You know that feeling you get when you return somewhere after a long absence and feel a little lost? You thought you knew where things were and how things worked, but then you get there and it's a little like the Twilight Zone...looks the same, but something's definitely fishy. After missing last year's ISTE, I was fortunate to be a presenter with my friend, Cara (Teaching...My Calling) for ISTE 13.
I was really looking forward to meeting some of my twitter friends in person, seeing friends, getting to network with like-minded educators, and learning more about teaching and technology. And while I did get to do all of those things, the vibe at the conference was definitely different this year.
My last ISTE (11) was in Philly, and I remember an up-beat air and people stopping to talk to one another. There was sort of a fun, friendly feeling in the conference center. People would smile at each other in passing, talk across the escalators, in the hallways, and generally seemed open to conversations. We exchanged thoughts, ideas, and contact information.
Was it just me, or did this year feel a little serious and stuffy? I'd smile and nod...people walked by. Cara and I would say hello to people, and get blank stares. It seemed as if many were closed off and unwilling to meet a new friend. All of this could very well have been because of the layout of the conference center, and I really hope that is the case, because we just cannot shut one another out.
We educators are a community-some might even say that we are like a family (albeit a very large one). We need one another! I am the teacher I am today because of the connections and relationships I've made over the years. Sharing and collaborating have made me a better teacher for my students and the teachers in my building. Can you think of a better way to grow than to learn from others in your profession? Proverbs 27:17 says "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." We need to connect to others in our field to improve ourselves.
Attending sessions is very important. Don't get me wrong--I attended many, and learned a great deal from them. But they are only one part of the conference. If you attended ISTE and didn't make any connections, you missed an opportunity for growth. We want our students to connect globally. Let's model that practice. Let's connect and work together online, but also when we meet at conferences.
I am so grateful for the new people I did meet and look forward to collaborating with you on Twitter. I'm also thankful for the time I was able to spend building my friendships with the fabulous ladies with me below. I look forward to learning from you and with you. My conference certainly would not have been as rich without these connections.