I have a lot of processing to do about learning and connections from ISTE 13. That blog post (or posts) might take a while to churn in my brain, and I anticipate I won’t be able to produce coherent thoughts until at least next week.
For now, I’m sitting in my hotel room, procrastinating the huge re-packing task ahead of me. It’s a tough time — saying goodbye to your friends. I know it’s not really goodbye, but tough nonetheless. (warning: sappy blog post ahead)
Sometimes, my non-connected friends make fun of me for how much time I spend on social media connecting to people they think I “barely know.” Let me just unpack that a bit.
My first two ISTE/NECC conferences (San Diego in 2006 and Atlanta in 2007) were interesting experiences. 2006, I was still working in professional development in Omaha, Nebraska. At the conference, I simply hung out with other Nebraska educators, and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t meet anyone outside of my home state, though. In 2007, I went alone to the conference, and I didn’t meet anyone new. It was a very lonely and isolating experience. I hated it.
Fast forward to 2008, I had already been on Twitter for a while and had followed some really incredible educators. I found this cool place called the Bloggers’ Cafe, and I actually met some of those educators in person: Karl Fisch, Lee Kolbert, Darren Draper, Scott McLeod, Cory Plough, Wendy Wells Gallagher… and probably several others I’m forgetting right now. Meeting these people whom I already followed online brought to life a new connection. Putting the face with the Twitter profile pic and hearing their voices- I then began to HEAR their voices when I read their tweets and blog posts from then on.
Every ISTE since then, I have met more people from my network in person. We talk and laugh together, learn together, and grow together… not only as educators, but as people.
These people are among my closest friends, and I rarely see them more than once a year.
It’s difficult to explain this to people who make fun of me for the amount of time I spend on Twitter. And I’m getting to the point where I don’t even try anymore.
YOU are the people who get me. YOU are the people who inspire me to be a better learner, teacher, and person. YOU are the people who laugh at me when I do something embarrassing, but I know you’ll also be there to pick me up while you’re laughing. YOU are my family, and I can’t even express how grateful and humble I am to have you in my life.
I met so many new friends over the last week, and I can’t wait to begin this journey with you.
If we didn’t get a chance to meet in person this week, I hope it happens for us very soon.
If you ask me what my biggest takeaway is from ISTE, my answer will always be “THE PEOPLE.” Gadgets will come and go. New fads in education are always right around the corner… some of them whizzing by so quickly, we’ll forget about them in the blink of an eye. The relationships that we create… those are the pieces of a conference that stick with you.
Connecting matters. Relationships matter. Think about how this translates back into the classroom. I love my students – each and everyone of them from 1992 to 2013 forward. If they don’t know that, everything else fades away after time.
I know we get a little silly sometimes about “edushoes,” “eduawesome,” etc., but you all are my edufamily. So instead of saying goodbye today, let’s stick with “until we meet again.”