Last year around this time I made a list of ISTE12 To-Do's. The purpose was to challenge myself and others to make the most of this and other professional conferences. And to do so, I create a checklist of adventurous deeds that are guaranteed to create lasting memories and meaningful experiences.
Here's a recap:
1. Meet someone new each day. And not just a shoegazer shy "hello". Nah. We want the real thing here. Learn names. Exchange Twitter handles. Give high fives. Bonus points awarded for each following contact you have with said persons. There might just be another @JenniferLaGarde out there waiting to make your acquaintance.
2. Leave your hotel room. I know you'll be tired. Lots of walking. Lots of brain stimulation and excitement and bright lights and new gadgets. But this is San Antonio! You can't just go back to the hotel room and sleep. There are tons and tons of social events that will ultimately be the things you leave San Antonio talking about. And many of said events have open bars, making the socializing that much easier. Come on, chap. You can watch the Walking Dead another night.
3. Venture into the unknown. Ah! A vague task... clever, right?! To accomplish, you'll have to try out something totally new that you've never tried before. And you'll have to do it with heart and genuine interest. What's that? You say Google is holding demonstrations every 15 minutes? Sign me up! Tech4Learning has a new product they'd like to share? Definitely worth our time. Random Unknown Company needs an ear and has some flashy swag? You never know... you may even like what it is they're sharing!
4. Put yourself out there. You do great things. You are humbled by the other even greater things people are sharing. But don't mistake this to mean you don't have something to offer. A little too much "We're not worthy" is uncomfortable for everyone. Confidence, on the other hand, gets people's attention. And why shouldn't it? Those things you did to support those students were awesome!
But wait! There's more!
Here are a new new to-do's I'm adding to the plate for this year's ISTE conference.
5. Bring a companion. There's a lot to experience at a professional conference. Having someone to accompany your adventure is an opportunity sorely missed. What if you encounter other-worldy danger? A rift in the time-space continuum? An intruder masquerading treacherous plans? A puzzling logical conundrum? But seriously... what if you hear something that challenges the way you approach instruction? ...or you need someone to talk to about the inspiring ideas overheard at a recent session? Traveling with a companion means shared experiences, shared joy, share wins. If it's good enough for the Doctor, it's certainly good enough for me.
|My companion. No doubt.|
6. Break the ice. Being the first to say "hello" is a pain. What if the person thinks you're weird? What if he or she isn't interested in saying "hi"? What if things go awkward and then you keep running into the person over and over and over. Humiliation (or even the threat of humiliation) can be a bit crippling. Luckily, the people that attend professional conferences are just like you! They are there to learn, to meet new people, and have fun exploring ideas and tools related to their interests. You've nothing to fear and everything to gain. Instead of saying hi, why not just invite them to play an iOs game? You could play Spaceteam and end up making friends for life! Who knows?!
7. Nerd out. Much in the vein of putting yourself out there, ISTE is a chance to let your inner nerd shine. Geek out over the tech you love. Don't be shy over the web tools that make your heart flutter. That very tool that your prize above all others could be the rosetta stone that connects you to the people who will become your most prized PLN over the coming years. Being yourself and being true to your interests goes a very long way.
8. Join a tribe. Geek tribe. isteBFF. LevelUpBC. EduBros. Become part of the conference culture by participating in the groups who form, expand, and celebrate over the course of ISTE. These tribes are comprised of like-minded individuals and don't have to be professionally focused. Joining up is informal and the focus is on fun and friendship. Wearing fake mustaches, celebrating new friendships, geeking out over tech, and connecting with other gamers are a few of the ways I grew closer to others at ISTE last year. Those experiences, often taking placing virtually (via Twitter) and during off-hours (in between sessions and over dinner or drinks) are ones not to be missed.
Where ever you're headed this summer, have fun and be safe. And if you're headed to ISTE or ALA, I look forward to sharing some amazing experiences with you and the hundreds of other educators!