Until We Meet Again

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.”


12 thoughts on “Until We Meet Again

  1. Thank you for putting words to my feelings. This is beautifully written and not sappy at all, unless I’m right with you, which I am. With all the new people you have met how are you going to keep track of them all? I have to create a new column in my Tweetdeck just for those I met. Great post and see you online.

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thanks, Rodney! There are times that I forget who I’ve met in person and who I haven’t, because we often get to know each other so well online. You were on my “must meet asap” list, and I’m so glad that we did! Thanks for all you sharing and enthusiasm. I love learning with you! Until next time… 🙂

  2. I know exactly how you feel.. well, maybe not exactly, but I LOVE the chance to catch up with those who have truly become friends. I wish we had had more time, and I think I say that every time. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so eloquently and honestly. I look forward to seeing you again 🙂

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thank you, Joan! You share so much of yourself with your network, and we’re all so grateful to you! Always a pleasure to hang out with you!

  3. As Adam Bellow told me and Summer “see you in 140 characters” 🙂 I love you and I’m so glad I can call you my friend. Be safe. Stop making me cry.

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Cry, laugh, take selfies together – that’s what we do, my friend. The key is “together,” and I’m so happy that we met and have grown so close. Love you, too.

  4. I have very clear memories of meeting you for the first time during a dinner break at the 2009 ISTE (then called the NECC) in Washington, D.C. It was my first big conference and I was seriously overwhelmed, but I met you and other people who I have come to value as friends.

    I’ve been lucky to have had a set of people who have been close friends for 45 or more years, but I’m in more constant contact with you and the other friends I’ve made through Twitter, Facebook and attending Educamps and conferences. As you point out, we get each other in ways that others don’t.

    I’m about to take off on a three-week tour of places I’ve never been and at every stop I will be seeing again or meeting for the first time people in education, now friends, I first met online. My wife tells me you all are imaginary, but we know how real we are to each other.

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Deven, I remember that same moment. Isn’t it funny that we can pinpoint the exact time a friendship starts? So glad we had the opportunity to sit and talk for such an extended time in DC, and that we have been able to continue that conversation for the past 4 years! Amazing, isn’t it?

      Good luck on your tour… can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

  5. John T. Spencer

    It was a blast getting a chance to see you again at ISTE. Thanks for always providing great questions, great humor and a really amazing ability to listen in a culture saturated with talking. You rock!

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thanks, John. It is always a pleasure to talk with you. I could sit and listen to you all day! You really inspire me to think differently and challenge what I believe. That’s so incredibly valuable. Thank you.

  6. Philip Cummings

    It was wonderful seeing you again at ISTE. I always enjoy our conversations about school and teaching (and the singing is fun too), but I loved hearing your personal story this year. Those few conversations we had when it was just us were definitely a highlight for me, and I thank you for them. See you at #educon in January? I hope so.

    • Michelle Baldwin

      Thanks, Philip! Face to face conversations are so important, and I’m glad we get to continue ours here and on Twitter.

      I hope to go to Philly in January, but not sure yet. Thanks!

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