Friday, July 5, 2013

ISTE 2013 Reflection - Part 3

I spent Wednesday morning at the poster sessions taking in information and learning with teachers. But before I got there I ran into the ADE Digital Story telling people at the digital playground and I was so impressed with what they were sharing. On the inside I was smiling too because this is a very special group that I am now a part of too. It's all a bit surreal but in a super exciting sort of way.  I'll meet many of them in person at the Apple Institute in Austin later this month.

Back to ISTE. I liked all  the poster sessions I attended because it allowed me to ask my questions, or listen to the presenter share their journey.  It is here that I learned that I can easily e-mail blogger posts to my blogs and it also reminded me that I need to check out what's available on the blogging platforms that I use (blogger and kidblog in particular). It is great to see what people are doing in their classrooms, and it also helped reassure me that I am doing good things in my room too.  It made me think that I could, legitimately, apply to have a poster session at ISTE too.

I also spent part of the morning in iOS Mobile Storychasing with Wesley Fryer and Dana Owens. What was funny to me is that they encouraged us to e-mail blogs to the blog they created for their workshop. I giggled because I had just moments early learned how to do this.  Their session was interesting. My class and I share a fair bit of our stories on line but their session had me wondering how I could involve the parents of my students a bit more. Perhaps they could start contributing to our class blog too, via e-mail, from home.

The conference ended with the most amazing keynote presented by Adam Bellow.  I was extremely fortunate to talk with Adam a few times over the week. On the occasion I have met "twitter" people face to face and as excited as I am to meet them, they really seem to care less about meeting me. I get that because I'm sure they have a ton of people coming up to them wanting to meet them although I'm not saying that I agree with it. But not once did I get that feeling from Adam at all.  What an incredible, bright, engaging, genuine, real person.  Seriously. This guy is the REAL THING.  If you haven't had a chance to listen to his keynote I highly recommend you do. It's in the video below and starts around the 22 min mark.

So with that keynote the conference was officially over.  The funny thing is I think I stood outside the ballroom for close to an hour chatting with a variety of people I met and connected with over the  weekend.  As completely exhausted  as I was I didn't want the experience to end.  What was also nice is that I spent time talking with some local people from my part of the world. I like that because those face to face conversations can easily continue.

ISTE was an incredible experience for me and I can't stop smiling about it.  But what now?

Here are a few more of my reflections.

In so many ways ISTE was the best place  for face to face connections and was the main reason why I was excited to attend the conference.  And as I've now been home for about a week I realize that there were so many people  that I never had the chance to meet and chat with.  But what bothers me is that there were some educators that I tried to meet with little luck.   In fact I was pretty much ignored by people. It made me feel like my voice was not important which I know is not true.  So as much I was warned in advance there there were cliques at ISTE I'm sad that I had to witness that.  Thankfully I did have enough people that I did know (or meet) that did enjoy spending time with me but it does bother me that people treated me that way.  I'm hoping with time they will take the time to get to know me a little better too.  We all have important stories to tell.

The ISTE conference is as over whelming as they say. There are sessions on everything and those sessions can take on so many different formats.  My goal when I arrived was to meet people and I'm really happy with how I did in that department. I met some incredible people face to face who will continue to have a huge impact on my learning and sharing.  The sessions however were not nearly as inspiring as I would have hoped. I know to present at ISTE is an extremely competitive process so I wonder if it was just the sessions that I attended, or that I already have so much trusted freedom to explore innovative ways of teaching with my students, or that I am a connected educator and so I've seen, read, or have had conversations about a lot of what was presented in the sessions I attended.  And I tried to attend sessions that I didn't know much about - like augmented reality, or innovative ways of teaching with new technologies. I'm not sure what it was exactly but it did surprise me.

I tried to take part in far too many evening events.  One night I could have been in eight different places at once and as much as I hate missing out on anything I think I should have narrowed down what I did do to even less. What ended up happening is that I spent very little time at each location and so as much as I had quantity visits I lacked many quality ones.  That's very me though and something I need to work on. I hate to settle on one thing because I don't like to  miss out on anything.   I dabble in a lot of different things and not necessarily master  anything.  As a generalist at heart, with so many curiousities and questions in a variety of areas,  I'm constantly trying to find answers. I am a life long learner for certain.

Since I've returned many themes continue to spiral around in my head and these include...

How can we get more "classroom teachers" to ISTE. I learn with a fantastic group of educators from #1stchat but I was the only one at ISTE. I also know that a ton of teachers from my district would have loved to have been there but it's way too costly for us to be released from class and to be so far from home for close to a week.  I was lucky this year because I won the award and I know that but how powerful it could have been to have other elementary classroom teachers from my district with me. Maybe this can happen next year when the conference takes place when we are not in session.  As it is though I'm thankful I was there with some of my district's helping teachers as it allowed me to get to know the a little better, and for them to get to know me a little better. I'm hoping this strengthened connection will better able me to help them out in their rolls. I am a voice from with in the classroom environment.

What other ways can I help my young learners show the world what they are capable of doing? Any chance I get I will advocate for my young learners, or I will find ways for them to advocate for themselves. This conference made me realize that we aren't doing it well enough. There is so much the "big" people could learn from my little people. I my little people to be heard.

How can I improve my communication with parents, particularly for those who are not comfortable accessing information on line.  This year I made the effort to keep our class blog up to date, and my students shared a lot on their individual blogs. Any working parent could access this information 24/7 but I'm not sure how often they did.  ISTE gave me a few more ideas to try for next year. I think with the change in school I'll be more willing to give up the "what we always do" mentality and explore new options for communicating with parents.

How do I inspire my staff to reflect on their teaching practice and be willing to try something new while at the same time making sure that I am being mindful of where they are in their own personal journey?  As many of you have read I am leaving my school after 18 years. The reasons are many but this is certainly something I've struggled with the past couple of years. As I embark on a new school with a new staff I want to make sure I am there as a support, and not a threat. I know that we all do great things in our own ways and I want to make sure that I very clearly embrace that.  But I also want to inspire my new staff to reflect on their teaching practice and be willing to try something new. It will be a very tight rope to walk and I hope I can find ways to do it successfully.

And before I forget a question that came up over and over again from my on line peeps that were not at ISTE is why didn't I tweet more? The reality was as good as the wifi was for 18,000 people, there were many times when it failed miserably. After waiting for what felt like forever to have a tweet send, the novelty of sending a tweet wore off completely.  

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.  If you've missed my Part 1 and Part 2 reflections you can find them by clicking here.

ISTE 2013 Reflection - Part 1
ISTE 2013 Reflection - Part 2

If you were at ISTE I'd love to hear about your take aways.


  1. I have enjoyed all 3 of your posts -- thank you for sharing.
    And am especially glad you won the prize so you get to go to ISTE 14 and also that you shared more about your award - & how you got to meet Kay's husband. Exceptionally cool.

    I am still a bit in a daze of how we meet. Smiles, I expected fanfare, fireworks, and applause -- yet it was just a drive by in the hallway. If I could have a would be nice. In fact, I don't even remember what any of us were rushing to -- but, smiles, it seemed we all were on a quest to get somewhere. ;)

    Sorry that we did not have more time to talk -- but I enjoyed very much, the few times we did. Each time, in the Blogger's always were surrounded by I know you had a great time meeting people.

    I like this thought you shared: How can we get more "classroom teachers" to ISTE. I learn with a fantastic group of educators from #1stchat but I was the only one at ISTE. -- and feel that it should be challenge to many of us.

    I, myself, know that ISTE 14 will be paid for - if I wish it to be -- so you have challenged me to save for the conference anyway -- and then bring a teacher along for the learning. Maybe others will do so as well.

    Thank you again for your postings and memories of ISTE.


    1. Thanks Jen. I agree we met in such passing but I feel that most of my initial connections were like that. And your voice was so clear to me when I walked passed you (on the way to my first Hack Ed session) that I smiled as soon as I heard it and had to find you. Maybe it was because you had interviewed me for EdReach but I knew it was you the moment I heard your voice.

      I'm also not so much about fireworks and fan fare. I'm a very regular person. It surprised me when people were excited to meet me but it was so kind of them to say that to me as well. All a bit over whelming but as I said over and over again, over whelming in a positive way.

      I hope others can bring classroom teachers with them too. I understand why tech directors need to be at ISTE but I also know that it is us, those in the field, that are doing the day to day work with the students. We are the ones dealing with all the issues that a student comes in with. We are their front line. If change is going to happen in classrooms we need to be a guiding force with this change.

      I look forward to seeing you at ISTE14. While my conference is covered I will start saving for my flight and hotel too. The problem for me right now is that there are several conferences I'd like to get to this year and I think it's going to get spendy. I need to find ways to get funded (even if partially) for my learning adventures.

      Thinking back on ISTE brings so many smiles to my face. The biggest ones comes from the people I met and the conversations I was able to have. Thanks for being a part of that smile.

  2. Hi Karen,
    Great reflections, especially appreciate your honesty. For me ISTE was an experience of immense contrasts (post in the hopper!). But overall I tried to keep my focus on the positives, take those and run. I feel like my brain is a scrambled cupboard shoved chock a block full of ideas, people, blog posts I want to write; it is without a doubt an incredibly over whelming experience!
    I admire you for having 3 reflections out and I am bound and determined to get my first one out today!
    Congrats again on your award, I feel proud that you are a teacher here in BC and congrats on the trip win for next year!!
    Glad I got to see you there :)

    1. Thanks Carolyn. I too have a head full of things I want to get out (check my blog in June and you'll see it was far too quiet). I still don't feel like I've done my ISTE experience justice as there were so many facets of it. It was an incredible high though and I am very thankful to have won my entry (not trip to Atlanta, just conference registration fees) for next year. I still have a lot to save to ensure I get there, but I will get there. And as for the award, I am very proud to be representing my school district, province, and country. While Canada has far fewer educators than the US I think proportionately we are doing a lot of really great things. It's nice to be recognized for that. K