Gratitude Stories from ISTE

Before attending ISTE 22 LIVE this year, I had just finished reading Lainie Rowell's new book, "Evolving with Gratitude." In chapter 2 of her book, she shared several gratitude practices and many of these resonated with me. First, she spoke of the practice of gratitude journals. This was not a new idea to me, but what followed was, She shared about  protocol that Dr. Huberman shared in his November 2021 podcast, the Huberman Lab, on episode 47 titled "The Science of Gratitude and How to Build a Gratitude Practice." This protocol is based on research that the most effective ways to express gratitude involve stories and the receiving of the genuine gratitude." (p.29 Rowell)

As a blogger, the idea of sharing stories of gratitude really appealed to me. As I attended ISTE, I was struck by how many moments of gratitude I experienced throughout the week. So when I got started writing my reflection blog, it seemed like gratitude stories were the way to go.

Gratitude Story #1: A Breakfast Like None Other

This year, ISTE began for me with an amazing breakfast hosted by two educators who I affectionately call my "adopted moms" : Barbara Bray and Ilene Winokur.  When I connected with both of these phenomenal educators  back in 2021 (Ilene in February and Barbara in December), I had no idea how my interactions with them would impact me and my journey. 

In Lainie's book. another gratitude practice she shared was called mental subtraction. It has you take a positive moment in your life and reflect on its impact (ie. what would your life be like without this moment?) As I entered this amazing breakfast, these thoughts were at the forefront of my mind.

If I had never connected with Ilene and Barbara, I wouldn't have

This breakfast was truly a dream come true. I got to meet so many phenomenal educators in person including Ilene and Barbara. Although most of the people there I had only ever connected with online, it felt like we had always known each other. Getting to be part of this event was unbelievable and I can not express my gratitude to Ilene and Barbara enough. They created a special gathering where educators who have been connected online for a while were able to come together and celebrate our connections with each other. I feel so lucky to be part of their edufamily and it was the perfect way to get ISTE started.

Gratitude Story #2: Opportunities to Share My Passion

Before COVID started and closed down our world, I applied to present on my own for the first time. That first conference was a district conference and I was so excited to share my first presentation, "Empowering Student Voice using Technology Tools." I will never forget that first session and how the organizer of the conference, Mike Abrams, said when he saw my name on the proposal, he was excited to have me present.  Since then, I have been honored to present at many conferences, both virtual and in person. 

In those two years, ISTE had been virtual so when I found out I had been accepted as a virtual presenter for ISTE22, I have to admit that I was initially a little disappointed. I was attending live and I wanted to present in person. This led me to applying to three playgrounds and for one poster session. Suddenly, I went from one session to six of them. Doing playgrounds and poster sessions were new experiences for me. I loved how these formats challenged me to look at my presentations with new eyes. They also enabled me to find new ways to interact with educators during my sessions.

It turns out that I was totally off-base in my initial disappointment over having a virtual session. But I am so grateful that initial disappointment led me to apply to playgrounds and poster sessions. These other types of presentations helped me grow as a presenter. I loved each and every one of them and all of the fantastic people I got to meet and connect with, That virtual session- it was amazing and I had close to 150 people attending. All of these experiences shared one important thread- it brought me such joy to share my passion and connect with other educators. To all of those who organized ISTE and those who attended my sessions, thank you for giving me such an wonderful opportunity.

Gratitude Story #3: Opportunities to Learn New Things

But perhaps the most amazing part of ISTE were the amazing learning opportunities. I am so grateful to be one of the members of FCPS SBTS team to attend ISTE and share out our learning. A huge thank you to my district for giving me this opportunity. This past week was full of amazing learning opportunities. Here are just a few of the highlights.

I loved how Richard Culotta shared  4 essential shifts during the Sunday Mainstage

These are powerful calls to action as we prepare for the upcoming school year.

 I use Canva for all my graphics and for ISTE, I even used it to make business cards and posters for my poster session.

Another highlight was Jen Hall's Creating with Canva session. It is no secret that I love using Canva. What I loved about Jen's session (as always) is that she has so many amazing ideas to share and then gives participants time to play. If you idn't already know it, here are some golden nuggets. 

This is just the tip of the Canva iceberg and I can't wait to try out some of my new skills! 

Gratitude Story #4:  Opportunities to Connect with Communities

I am so grateful to be part of some amazing communities. These communities have been such a wonderful support to me during my journey. 

To begin with, I consider myself so blessed to be part of the Teach Better Community. I love this community so much that I am a Teach Better blogger, Ambassador, and a member of both the Administrator and Edupreneur Masterminds. So when I got to connect with Dave Schmittou, Cheryl Graff, and Dan Kreiness, I was overjoyed.

Another community that I have been adopted into is NCTies. After attending NCTies in March, I was honored to be part of the PBS NC Early Education Summit. It is always a treat to connect with Ashley McBride, Brian Whitson, Lauren Boucher and Stacy Lovdahl. These are just a few of the many communities that I love being part of. They have all had a huge impact on me and I love being part of them!

I know that there is no possible way to be to possibly thank and show gratitude to all of the people who contributed to the richness of my ISTE experience. 

If I tried to name all of you, I would inevitably miss someone. But know that-