27 Jun ISTE 2013 – Everything Changed
So I left ISTE 2013 today. Man what an exciting, invigorating, exhausting, and somewhat life changing experience I had these past 5 days at ISTE. Before I jump into my week I think it might be best if I give a little background information about myself to help you better understand why this week made as big of an impact as it did.
This blog has primarily been used for me talking about my Flipped PBL Classroom, and you can scroll through past posts to read all about that. But I’ve kept this blog very professional. I’ve never really delved much into who I am personally. I’ve never really seen the need to. And I always express myself best in written form, so I figured it’d be best to tell you a little about me.
I’m very good at putting up a facade. I’ve been told quite a few times I’m quite the actor. But throughout my life I’ve struggled with making deep friendships, or even friendships where I felt truly cared about or understood. Now that’s not to say I haven’t had some great friends! I HAVE! But I’ve had very few close friends. I’ve always sort of felt like an outcast, misunderstood, and often felt like I went unnoticed. I was not the “social butterfly” some may see me as today. And there are still days where I struggle with insecurities. I don’t tend to share my personal life or my personal struggles because I have this voice that tells me “no one really cares”. Many times I don’t feel like I’ve earned any right to speak in front of other educators about what I’m doing. Many times I feel uncomfortable in front of educators who are doing what I consider to be extraordinary things, because I feel like I won’t quite be as good as them. I know this is a fault of mine, and a fault I’m very aware of. I know I should never compare myself to others and I know I’m doing great things! It’s just a thought that gets in to my head still!
Then came Twitter. I’ve been on Twitter since about May of 2012. I got on it because my Assistant Superintendent at the time told me that I was doing incredible things and that I should be sharing those ideas with more people and he said Twitter was a great place to start. It was very difficult for me at first because I’ve always taught behind a “closed door”. I didn’t want anyone to see what I was doing because I’m a boundary pusher. I’m someone who is always looking to do non-traditional things in my classroom to connect with my students and to grow them into the best person possible. And sharing on Twitter terrified me. But I decided to give it a shot anyway….and man I am glad I did. Over the past year I’ve built some pretty great relationships with people via Twitter. Relationships/Friendships that were completely virtual. I had never met these people in person and yet I was sharing ideas, gaining even more ideas, and just connecting in ways I’d never done before.
As I began to get active on Twitter I began to hear about different local conferences and as I heard about them I decided to attend them. And that is when I began to meet many of my Texas Twitter Friends in person. It was a very invigorating experience and one that kept me from quitting my job.
So throughout the last year I’ve met tons of amazing Texas educators.
Then I heard about ISTE, and that it was supposed to be this incredible learning experience where people come in from all over the world and lead sessions and that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to attend sessions and learn from people from all areas of education.
But what’s funny, is that is how ISTE is described to the public. To come join in and attend tons of great sessions and seminars led by some of the “best in education”. And ISTE does have a lot of really great sessions…..but here’s the humorous part….I didn’t attend even one session (besides the Ignite sessions and the Keynotes) and I feel like I learned more than I ever have in my life.
How could I learn so much without ever attending a session? Connecting with others. I spent the entire last five days connecting with people I’ve been interacting with on Twitter. But now, thanks to a conference like ISTE, I was able to make those face to face, in person, connections which were mind blowing (and now due to those connections, our conversations on Twitter will be even more meaningful). I met TONS of people who really made ISTE memorable. Now I admit, when I first came to ISTE my number one goal was to get a picture with all these people I considered Twitter Rockstars. I know some people I talk to don’t like that I call them “Rockstars”….but what that means to me is that that is someone on Twitter who I really respect and who I think has amazing tweets and ideas. So yes, when I first got to ISTE, my plan was just to get pictures with all these people I had never had the opportunity of meeting before. And I got a LOT of really great pictures….
But then something interesting happened….as I started to meet some of the people, I started to see them as a little different then the 140 characters I had been communicating with before. I was beginning to see personalities more clearly and see the more personal side of some of my Tweeps.
So rather than just sit here and list every Twitter Rockstar I met and talk about who I was freaking out about meeting, I thought I would take a different approach. There were a few people this week who really had an impact on me. Who made me feel like I mattered. Who made me feel important, and who made me feel like I had a voice worth listening to and a personality worth getting to know and who I felt like was really interested in connecting with me on a personal level. Which as I started out writing, is something that hit me hard. So I decided instead of writing about ISTE as a whole, I would just write a little bit about a few of the people who really impacted me the most this week……(**side note: As I stated before I met a TON of great people, but these people listed below are just a few of the ones that helped remind me that I matter).