Back home, with birds chirping in the dark cool of our home in Paramus, Atlanta, Georgia and ISTE’s 15,000 tech ed teachers seem very far away and the lines I came to take for granted are fading as I digest my first and possibly my last ISTE conference.
Here’s what I loved about my ISTE experience:
1. My Conference Team: I shared it with two great friends from Highland Falls, Andrea Tejedor and Kristen Magyar, two techie teacher pros who knew how to take on this conference beast. In fact, Kristen created a Google calendar months ago and started constructing a conference experience that Andrea added to regularly sending me recommendations and updates for workshop sessions and reception invites and I started following their lead.
They warned me about the lines but you have to see the snake to believe it. The first day we arrived and made our way over to register everything was peaceful. no lines yet, but by the next morning this conference was in full gear and when I saw that first snake heading to an opening Ignite session. I opted for a latte with Andrea instead.
2.Tech Friends: I got to share the conference experience with my buddy Jonathan Friesem and his friends from the U of Rhode Island. We met up with them on our first night in Atlanta ready for anything, even a walk to Gladys Knight’s famous waffle and chicken spot not far from our hotel. Even though the bellhops at the Hilton entrance were not happy about our walking into the neighborhood, we walked, after all it wasn’t dark yet, but it was colorful. We got there ahead of Jon and his group and with an hour’s wait and no place to sit in this very popular, very greasy spot, we strongly recommended him that we change our meet up place to the Pacific Rim, closer to our hotel. Of course! Jonathan did get to eat waffles and chicken at Glady’s, but not with us 🙂 T
The next morning, as we were still acclimating, we put on tourist caps and bought tickets for the World of Coca Cola and had fun, even bought Coke tee shirts but I refused to drink Coke from any place other than the USA! Good thing.
3. Meet Ups: One very mellow morning, when most of the 15,000 were already inside a session, I sat and watched Jonathan create a website using Wix.com and my fingers were itching to create my own. I have begun :). As I sat quietly enjoying the calm my phone broke the peace and Charlie Hinsch, a student of mine probably 20 years ago, made his way to my couch spot to share his life as a grown map and our meeting up was all because we have a common Pearl River “friend on Facebook. It was so good to see him.
4. Keynotes and Surprises: I don’t really understand why Ashely Judd was even a second choice, to serve as the kick off Keynote for this 15,000 strong conference, but no matter, instead I opted out hanging with Andrea as she took up her volunteer post and suddenly, 4 young techies were camped out in front of us pushing their tech wares:Kaizena, Padlet, Plickers and good thing I happened to have my brand new Go Pro on hand to play with as I interviewed them. The event outside the event was enough for us.
5. Volunteering: Following Kristen and Andrea, I offered to volunteer at the conference for a 3 hour spot for a free t shirt, a new bag and more. I worked with Todd, a Champ( 8 hours of volunteering) from Alberta, Canada and had a great time getting to know the place, the community and starting to feel acclimated.
6. Evening Entertainment: Kristen and Andrea made sure our evenings were filled with tech receptions, culminating on last night in an event awarding their Superintendent, special Tech leader of the year. Exciting and great apps!
6. Participant: On Monday I did get to be a genuine conference participant. I began at a morning keynote without the snaking line and sadly, with lots of available seating. Now this guy deserved Ashley’s full house. a young man of color with an inspiring story of a passion of learning and a drive for community and lots of success. how lucky I was to be in the right place at the perfect time to just follow the crowd 🙂 Check out Kevin Carrell’s wonderful story:
and I did get to make my way through the exhibit hall without filling my bag with lots of product handouts It was a more serious adventure with Jonathan and Carla as they made sure to leave their cards filled out for the upcoming raffle at many product booths.
Finally too, a few workshop sessions. one run by two young Rhode Island PD facilitators believing that they could reinvent the wheel and teach those teachers what they needed without authenticity in their own classrooms. My thumbs way down.
but the last one was a breath of fresh air even if I didn’t learn a lot…. How to iMovie taught by a teacher with a great sense of time and expertise.
Finally, it was the last morning and I was up ready to get back to Tuvia. It was the best, getting back into his sliver Escape and head back home.