ISTE12 Recommendations

In five days, I leave for San Diego to head to ISTE 2012. This is a special ISTE for me, because the first ISTE/NECC conference I attended was in 2006 in San Diego. I can’t wait to go back to this beautiful venue!

NECC (ISTE) 2006

In 2006, I was working as a professional development coordinator for a suburban school district in Omaha, Nebraska. The only people I knew going to San Diego were other people from my school district. While on a layover in Denver, I met other Nebraskans going to the same conference. These are the people I spent time with at ISTE/NECC.

I didn’t meet anyone from any other states or countries, and there were no new connections made outside of my own state. I was okay with that at the time, because I’m a naturally shy person and don’t tend to put myself out there very easily. I didn’t know what I was missing!

The next ISTE/NECC conference was in Atlanta in 2007. Other than meeting a few new people through other Nebraskans I already knew, this conference was really a “repeat” for me in the networking area. No new contacts. No new relationships.

In 2008, I was on Twitter and I was blogging. In San Antonio, I ventured into an area called the Bloggers’ Cafe and worked up the courage to introduce myself to Darren Draper, Scott McLeod, and Lee Kolbert. They were bloggers I followed and admired. Some guy named Cory Plough introduced himself to me here also. These people were kind and welcoming… and I have to admit that San Antonio sticks out as one of the best conferences I had attended up to that point. That’s because I met new people and made new connections that I value to this day.

We often talk about how teaching can feel like an isolated profession. Social media tools can help to break that isolation… but if you don’t know how or where to make connections, the “tools” won’t help you. If you’re attending a conference, you need to take advantage of the face-to-face time.

My advice to those attending ISTE 2012 in San Diego:

1) If you are a conference regular:

  • take some time to introduce yourself to new people. I know that conferences like ISTE are the few times during the year that you get to see your friends, and you want to spend time with them. But realize that there are a lot of new people who really need you to take that first step to help THEM make new connections and create relationships that will help them grow as educators. They are doing great things in their classrooms/schools, too, and we can all learn something new and valuable from each other.
  • Encourage the people you meet to start blogging or jump on Twitter. If they need help, show them.
  • Be the one to start a connection.

2) If you are a new or new-ish conference attendee:

  • enjoy the sessions and the exhibits, but make the time to stop by the Newbie Lounge, the Social Butterfly Lounge, and the Bloggers’ Cafe. These areas are designed for networking, meeting new people, and great conversations. ISTE 12 Lounges
  • Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know.
  • If you’re on Twitter, make sure your Twitter name is on your nametag (if you’re not on Twitter, you might consider joining before the conference). Twitter is a GREAT way to stay connected to the people you meet at conferences.
The people that I have met at conferences and then stayed connected with through Social Media are some of my most valued friends. I can’t wait to see them! But I also can’t wait to meet you… whoever you might be. I look forward to sharing ideas with you and hearing about what you’re doing for kids. See you soon!

13 thoughts on “ISTE12 Recommendations

  1. Sheila Bolmeier

    My first ISTE Michelle! Hope to see you…or tweet you there! 🙂 @bolmeiermps

  2. Leslie Whittington

    Thank you for that post. This will be my first ISTE. Not sure what to expect and, yep, a little on the shy side. And, I’m going by myself. What was I thinking? 8-/ I definitely think it will help having been on Twitter, but it seems like everyone already knows each other. Funny how, no matter how old you are, stepping out of your comfort zone reduces you to that awkward kid you used to be. Good reminder of how our students feel almost daily! Anyway, thank you for the encouragement to step out and introduce myself and the reminder to all those who’ve been there, done that. Looking forward to meeting you!

    • Michelle Baldwin

      I am so with you, Leslie. It took me two years to work up the courage, and I even look back and am still embarrassed. BUT… those first few connections really opened up my world and made such an impact on my teaching and learning!

      Be sure to spend time in the Newbie Lounge. I’ll be working there, as well as some really great people who will gladly welcome you! If we don’t connect there, be sure to message me on Twitter so we find a time to connect!

  3. Nice little post Michelle. I loved San Antonio because it was the first ISTE I specifically went to in order to meet new people. For newbies, It can be intimidating and hard to walk into a group which seems as if everyone knows each other and just start introducing yourself. I agree that it is important for experienced ISTE ‘ers to be the ones to talk to people they don’t know because it helps our community get stronger.

    • Michelle Baldwin

      So funny, Cory… you probably helped me grow my network in its ‘infancy’ more than anyone else. I’m so grateful to you! Can’t wait to see you again!

  4. I am looking forward to my first ISTE and growing my connections. 🙂

  5. Very nice of you to say. Michelle, you should pick a time and location for all the people who comment on this thread to come meet. Maybe Sunday or Monday in the Newbie Lounge.

  6. Angela Thomas

    Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for the advice, am very excited about ISTE, travelling from Australia and hoping to meet new people and be inspired. This is not only my first ISTE but also my first visit to USA! Will definately visit the lounges.

    Angela (@Ange_Tho)

  7. […] from the experiences from those who’ve enjoyed learning and networking at ISTE in the past, such as this post from Michelle Baldwin. During and after the conference, attendees will definitely be blogging and sharing highlights from […]

  8. […] ISTE12 Recommendations from Michelle Baldwin is full of great advice aimed at getting both newbies and old hands connecting. My husband is in transportation, not education, and has wisely said that most of what he “learns” at conferences happens in conversations in the hallway with other attendees. Michelle gives some concrete suggestions on how to make this happen. I know she lives her advice because I we ended up sharing a cab, that led to dinner at the last ISTE/NECC conference I attended. by alicemercer posted under conferences | No Comments »     Click here to cancel reply. […]

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