One week ago I was presenting on a stage to a packed room filled with educators excited to learn more about cultivating kindness with their instructional lessons. The room was buzzing with positivity as people entered, and I was right there in the mix, greeting people at the door as they arrived. It was the start of an incredible conference – #ISTE19.
Presenting at the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference is always a thrill as technology integration is a topic near and dear to my heart. This will be my 12th year as a technology integrator and instructional coach and I am always looking for ways to learn more, do more, be more. Presenting is my opportunity to give back to others, to share what we are doing in our district, and spark conversations with others.
Like many districts in the United States, we are moving towards a goal of 1:1 – providing enough laptops to our secondary students so that access to hardware is no longer an equity issue. Understanding that shift in access, we have a duty to equip ourselves with the knowledge of how to use these devices in ways that enhance and empower, not simply entertain. Attending a conference like #ISTE19 is a unique opportunity to not only dabble in the latest technological advances, but to also learn from the best and the brightest in our industry to discover what works and what doesn’t.
For me, ISTE has become a family reunion. Each year I attend, I seek out familiar faces of those whom I admire and carve out time in my schedule to share in conversations that always result in new insights and creative ways to make my teaching even better than it was before. I am introduced to new people who always inspire, while scanning for the newest technology that might directly impact how we lead and learn.
Each day my schedule was jam-packed with presentations, BYOD sessions, and hands-on learning as I explored unique ways to use tools I knew my students would have at their fingertips. I chose sessions that focused on blended learning as I wrapped my brain around how to support my elementary students as they adapt to a world where learning occurs 24/7 with the tap of a finger. My goal was to find resources to dive deeper with the tools we already have in place, to extend my discoveries to new depths.
While I enjoyed learning how to create my own remix in Garage Band and was mesmerized by the multitude of ways I could use a Hyperdoc to App Smash with Google Classroom, what I learned most about my time at ISTE was the true meaning of “Going 1:1.”
I know this might sound like a paradox to some and there are others who are nodding in agreement I’m sure, but I had an epiphany as I was scrolling through my phone’s camera roll following the conference.
Almost all my photos were selfies or snapshots of people I learned from.
Almost all my photos were moments where I learned the most.
See, I use technology in my own life not merely as a conduit to siphon knowledge from the world to spew back out when requested, but as a connector that allows me to collaborate and communicate with others as I tackle challenges that stretch my thinking and enhance my creativity.
I use technology to share my passions, to create and craft things that didn’t exist before, and a large part of that creation process involves the insights and interpretations of others.
Going 1:1 is not about handing a student a laptop with a link and standing to the side as they complete an hour’s worth of work independently in silence. Quite the opposite! It’s helping students see the power of that tool to make their learning even more impactful than ever before by connecting them in new ways to others while they learn.
Relationships matter. It’s vital for us as educators to guide our students in creating pathways to learning that involve others as these skills of communication and collaboration are life skills that make them more employable when they leave our wings of safety when they graduate.
Today, as I reflect on all that I learned at the ISTE conference, I am grateful for my personal learning network of educators, who freely shared their expertise in small and large group conversations. I am thankful to my district for the opportunity to attend the largest technology conference in the world, knowing that I am leaving 15,000+ people with new ideas, a renewed sense of purpose, and a passion that extends beyond my own solitary learning.
To all whom I met at ISTE, who took a moment from their day to talk about technology, kindness, and learning, thank you for the inspiration. It was an absolute joy to learn from you, with you, and because of you.
Check out my PLN video below. Each one of you fills my soul with joy!