Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally, My ITSE12 Reflection

How does this happen? Seems like it was a week ago that I was so excited to be heading to beautiful San Diego for ISTE12, and now here it is two weeks after that event and I'm finally getting my reflection of my time at the conference posted. I know I needed some time to process my adventure and learning before I wanted to write about it, but I honestly didn't think it would take this long.

Being able to present at ISTE on a panel with Beth Still, Josh Stumpenhorst, and Nicholas Provenzano was an incredible experience and helped me hone my presentation skills. Presenting about Building Your PLN with Twitter Chats with Jan Wells, JoAnn Jacobs, Joan Young, and Jason Seliskar at ISTE Unplugged was an extremely emotional experience. (I broke down in tears.) Attending sessions and parties allowed me to deepen my relationships with present PLN members and begin building new relationships with new people I met.

I learned from Vicki Davis to think about your three big take-aways so that you didn't feel overwhelmed by everything a conference like ISTE has to offer, or get upset with yourself because you didn't get to more sessions. 

As I have spent time reflecting on my take-aways, I first had to revisit the goals I set before heading to ISTE. My most important goal this time was to spend lots of quality time with Jan Wells, my Skype buddy and virtual co-presenter from Kansas.  Jan and I have been collaborating for three years and would be meeting for the first time face-to-face. You can read more about that here

My second goal was to help ISTE newbies navigate the hugeness of this conference and get connected. I hosted a BYOBreakfast in the Newbie Lounge on Monday morning to get things rolling on that goal. I met and had wonderful conversations with newbies and they were grateful for any advice that I or others shared with them. 

I also had a third goal to spend some meaningful face-to-face time with as many of my PLN members as I could fit in during my time at ISTE. I made this a goal after I left ISTE last year feeling very badly that I didn't get to have meaningful conversations with more PLN members. I was going to make sure that didn't happen again this year. Due to the fact that I shared a house with 15 members of my PLN, this enabled me to do so with them. Each day I sought out other PLN members and had great conversations with them too. 

Do you notice an interesting trend with the goals I had pre-ISTE? I had set goals about conversations and connections with people. I was not worried about learning about the latest tool or teaching technique. Why? Well, I can learn about those things while sitting at home thanks to Twitter. 

So now on to my three best take-away from ISTE12. 

Take-away #1 - Conversations
 I'm not the best at setting goals and carrying them out, so I am extremely pleased that I was very successful about accomplishing the goals I had set before heading to San Diego. ISTE12 will go down as one of the best for the amount of time I spent having meaningful conversations with lots of friends, both old and new. It feels good to be able to say that. 

Take-away #2 - Student Directed Learning
I spent some time thinking back over what I heard during presentations and conversations this year. There didn't seem to be as much talk about tools or devices. I heard more about collaboration and next steps. I also heard less about blocked sites and more about best practices that are happening in classroom all over the country. I heard more about how schools are trying to let students have a hand in their own learning and follow their passions. Helping our students become life-long learners is so important to their successful futures. So is teaching them how best to use the tools and sites that exist, but are always evolving. I will definitely be keeping student directed learning on the front burner this year. 

Take-away #3 - Priceless
I made the right decision about spending the money to attend ISTE. Registration $300, travel and board $1,000, learning and memories priceless. Getting to spend eight days with Jan really was priceless. 

                                       Photo credit - Peggy George

What are your three take-aways from ISTE12? Are you planning to attend ISTE13?