Top Ten Takeaways from #ISTE19-June 27, 2019

This is the first of several posts related to my #ISTE19 experience. In this week's post, I share my top ten takeaways from #ISTE19.

1. Connections, connections, connections!

One of the highlights of my #ISTE19 experience was the connections I made while there. From the moment I entered the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday until I left Wednesday afternoon, connections was a huge part of this conference experience.

What really struck me was how nice everyone was. We were all here for a purpose- to help us, as educators determine how technology could help our students reach learning goals. I met so many people at ISTE.

At first, I have to admit that I was "fangirling" hard when I met some of my "eduheroes" like Matt Miller, Jake Miller, Kasey Bell, Karly Moura, Eric Curts, Chris Nesi and so many more. It meant a lot to me to get to thank educators who I followed and listened to their podcasts for their impact on me as an educator. But more than that, they were all so nice. As time went by, rather than "fangirling," I was just connecting with other educators who were part of my tribe.

Part of my tribe- Getting to meet other educators who I have followed and corresponded with in real life was amazing. Making in person connections with my virtual PLN made the connections more concrete and added a new dimension to many of those prior connections.

But more than that, I got to meet so many amazing new educators and add them to my #PLN. Meeting people from around the world and continuing to build my PLN was a truly amazing experience.

2. The Importance of Choice and Voice in PD

Being a technology specialist , I attended several sessions on professional development. With less PD time in our upcoming school year and a huge variety of skill levels when it comes to technology, I have been exploring personalized professional development. From the sessions I attended, the biggest takeaway was:

How can we, as coaches, work WITH teachers to design professional development that honors and models teacher choice and voice?

3. You miss out on every conversation you don't have.

It might seem hard to believe but I can be pretty shy. On Sunday, I was getting ready to go get lunch but didn't know where to go. I stepped out of my shell and asked some other participants who were outside where they were going and then asked to join them. As a result, I met some wonderful educators from South Carolina who are now part of my PLN. After that initial "victory," I gained confidence, I got so much out of each new conversation that I participated in- met so many people and connected with them. None of that would have happened if I had never had that conversation...

4. Everyone has something to share- You never know who is sitting or standing next to you.

Let's face it- if you are at ISTE, you are a edtech enthusiast and are committed to using educational technology. Every person there contributed value to this conference. We were all there to learn from each other, support each other and collaborate to empower students.

Talking to the many people I met, I got the priviledge of learning about new places, their approaches to education and so much more. Hearing others' perspectives is such an eye opening experience!

5. Try something new and challenge yourself!

#ISTE19 was full of me trying new things and challenging myself in new ways. I went to social events each night. From the @EduPodnet meetups to FlipgridLive to EdTech Karoake, each experience was new and unfamiliar, but I loved them. Even something as simple as taking an Uber or a Lyft was new to me.

In sessions, I learned about @Scratch and how to build digital breakouts. These were not in my comfort zone, but I got so much from challenging myself.

6. You don't need to be at a "session" to learn something new!

Tuesday morning, I went to the storytelling playground. Originally, I went to learn more about #Wixie and meet the @Tech4Learning representatives, but got so much more out of it than I ever expected. From miniature green screen projects to using AR to tell stories, I was amazed by the creativity of others. One of my big focuses this year is to find ways to enhance creation in the primary grades and as I moved from table to table, I learned so many innovative approaches. When I go to my next ISTE, I need to schedule more time for these gems.

7. We are all much more alike than we could possibly imagine!

On Monday, I attended a EdTech coaches panel. On Tuesday, I attended a personalized PD session, Finally on Wednesday, I attended two coaching sessions. Regardless of which session I attended, there were so many commonalities. They weren't defined by our originating locations or job titles. As EdTech Coaches, we all face the same challenges while exuding a love for what we do. Knowing that you aren't alone in your struggles and that we can collaborate with each other is so empowering!

8. Don't forget to try "old tools" new ways...

During ISTE, I got to find ways to take "old tools" and use them in new ways.

On Monday, I took Stop Motion Slides with @JakeMiller Tech. We used Google slides to create Stop Motion Animation. There are so many wonderful ways to use this in the classroom and I can't wait to explore them.

Tuesday, I learned how to use both Google sites and Google Forms to create digital breakouts. I am looking forward to modeling this to both my teachers and students in the fall.

9. Words matter-

The words we use matter- Are we giving Professional Development or offering Professional Learning opportunities- my Wednesday morning session with Nick Amaral and Steve Rao made me look at words like this. My Wednesday morning session with Kasey Bell made me consider the words I use while coaching. "And what else?" are three powerful words we can use as coaches. What other words can we consider to amplify the impact while coaching?

10. No one throws a conference like ISTE!

This was my first ISTE in almost 20 years. My last ISTE was before Twitter and connected educators. So in many ways, this was my first ISTE! I had such a great time- I learned so much, made so many wonderful connections, and found myself feeling so at home. This is my tribe- It made me long for that feeling to continue. Even one day after ISTE, my connections on Twitter feel different, closer. My zeal for my job has been amplified. From keynotes, to BYOD sessions, to posters and playgrounds, there is something for everyone during the day. With meetups, events and receptions, evenings just continue those amazing conversations. It kind of felt like EdTech Summer Camp, and I can't wait to go back...

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