Reflecting on the whirlwind that was ISTE 2013

 

Random thoughts and reflections fill my head most moments of every day, sitting on my couch with my morning coffee on this sleepy Saturday of our school holiday break is no different. The thoughts that are buzzing by are making me smile and deserve a post of their own. . .

 

A year a ago I traversed the globe to embark on my ISTE adventure, it was a whirlwind 10 day USA trip that at the time was marred by the inefficiency of United Airlines to make a flight arrive or depart on schedule. As time has gone on, the pain inflicted by the travel has passed and these are the memories that I hold close to my heart as having a greater impact on my teaching practice and perspective as an educator:

 

  • Students are the SAME everywhere!

ISTE was full of queues. . . for coffee, food and entry to keynotes – in each and every one I had rich conversations with people who I shared much in common. We teach students! I spoke with LOADS of teachers from all over the world while queuing for stuff- we shared laughs and stories about what we have common, the time then flew in the queues!

I learnt that students are the same in all places, they forget homework and attempt to make the same silly excuses no matter what city they live. We solved problems of the edu-world in these queues, promising each other to abolish the monotony of homework, grades and useless feedback. Students are the same in all countries, we laughed at how they are grubby, annoying and can push every button of ours all at once! We discussed strategies for engaging difficult students, how to spark a passion for words in those that don’t like reading and giggled at stories of that time/s when technology failed during that epic lesson we had prepared.

 

  • Passion is contagious

I was ridiculously TIRED during the three days of ISTE, the heat was brain melting and traveling hard! Each morning I awoke to tweets about the day ahead – speakers, workshops and places to meet with new and old friends to share.

My fave place for catchy-passion at ISTE was the bloggers lounge, it became both a planned and impromptu place for deeper discussion. I spoke further with friends from queues here, eaves dropped on interesting convos and arranged each day of sessions based on the feedback and chatter of others. A fave moment on shared passion was at a TeachMeet that was set up in the downstairs lounge, we tweeted the plans for the place/time, brought friends, made a crowd and shared ideas. I had skipped out on a session to attend, opting to learn from loads peers rather than the research of one. In the 40mins of being there I witnessed this osmosis like effect of passion, it spread through the TeachMeet crowd like a fever, we “oooohed” and “ahhhhhhhed” in unison over new apps, resources and ideas for projects.

 

  • Friendship and fandom has no geographical boundaries

I met international edu-friends for the first time at ISTE, it was wonderful to spend the time face to face talking with like minded edu-nerds; Andy McKiel, Liz Castillo, Lucia Giacomantonio. I had fan moments chatting to Dean Shareski, meeting the Edmodo crew, listening to Andrew Miller talk PBL and watching Jane McGonigal conduct an epic thumb war! Communication mediums like Edmodo, Twitter and Blog stalking makes having an entourage of fans easy for these edu-super stars!

I became bigger fans of my Australian travelling friends; Jess, LeeBianca and Ashleigh. I watched them present, share and shine. The opportunity for me to present internationally with Leanne Cameron was unforgettable and humbling.

 

  • Education is not  for making money

I am not in this vocation for the purpose of money making and I had never fathomed the opportunity of enterprise that I would witness at ISTE. I understand the need to sponsorship and can appreciate the funds required to make an international conference run, but the point I am trying to make here is not to whinge about the profiteering but a reflection on the SHARING.

Thank you, to the connections that I made at ISTE that shared ideas, resources, twitter handles, hashtags and all the things that cost NOTHING but reward greatly.

 

 

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In the year since ISTE, the biggest change I see in myself is perspective. I have a greater perspective of  my influence and impact as  part of a bigger community of passionate educators that share the same motivations as I do.