Marla and I attended our first ISTE in 2012 when it was in our own backyard, San Diego. It was amazing and inspiring! Marla and I attended that one together and were in awe of the size of the conference and amount of amazing educators gathered to learn in the summer.
Then, I funded my own trip to ISTE Philly in 2015. It was great but definitely different attending by yourself. The hardest was not having someone to share things with or go to dinner with. Last year, while #NotatISTE Denver, Marla and I booked our hotel while following the #ISTE16 twitter feed. We just HAD to be there!
Having three of us there was amazing! We were able to discuss our plans leading up to the conference, set goals for what we wanted to learn, and divide up the information overload. I was definitely there to network, meet people I only knew from Twitter chats, and gather new ways to use technology in our classrooms that I could bring back and share with my staff. Carolyn found quite a few leadership sessions and is excited to set some school wide goals and bring resources back for our staff.
It was not Marla’s first ISTE rodeo thankfully either, and attending as the Innovation Specialist had her wearing laser focused glasses. Her goal this trip to ISTE was to see all things Makerspace/STEM related and she did just that. From the poster sessions and playgrounds to BYOD sessions and spending time in the vendor hall looking at different resources, Marla kept her new position in mind and gathered tools to take back to her school.
It was my first time presenting in a playground and also volunteering in the Google booth. There, and throughout the ISTE sessions, meet ups, and random connections in lines, I met people deeply committed to our profession and equally committed to learning something new. Learning is our business, and as Jennie Magiera stated in her keynote on Tuesday, it’s who we are. I was profoundly touched by Jennie’s keynote and the importance of sharing our ‘untold stories’. As she said, “We are wizards and this is our convention!”
I’ve attended ISTE solo and this time with a team. It is so much better with a team. We were able to see things from different perspectives, sometimes attending the same sessions, visiting the same playgrounds, or listening to the same keynotes, and other times splitting up and sharing resources. Attending with others, you have someone to commiserate with about your aching feet and share with about the one thing that you will for sure take back to school. As we come back to our real life, they are the people who can help you share the exciting new learning and spread it to others. I highly recommend everyone attend an ISTE Conference and Bring a Friend!