Cross posted at Tech & Learning
After attending my 5th ISTE event in a row, I always enjoy reading various reflections of the event. Those reflections usually reference the opportunity to network with other educators. The proverbial, “the hallway conversations trump sessions” statement continues to be the theme of the posts made by your favorite bloggers. Of course, one must realize the bias of what you read online. Those who blog and tweet are those who have, and find value, in a networked community of learners. Most of these folks are pretty empowered to pick and choose sessions in balance with informal time with colleagues. They’re the ones that try and make it back year after year not because they think they’ll be blown away by something amazing or new but because they treasure the opportunity to reunite with colleagues and friends. It’s summer camp for educators.
I watched people excited as they were being introduced to perspective they had never entertained. As much as many of these ideas have been shared for some time now, I’m never too surprised at how new they are for busy teachers who work 10 hours a day and come home to their families The majority of teachers work in schools and districts with few visionaries who are attuned to ideas that include using technology to make learning better. ISTE represents the minority.
We often hear that if you leave a conference with one good idea you can use in your classroom, that it’s worthwhile. That could be argued from many angles but I think we ought to modify that statement to say if you leave a conference with one great colleague you can learn from in the future it’s been worthwhile.
One of my favorite moments was when I read a tweet by a former student of mine who is in her 2nd year of teaching. She’s a primary teacher and was frustrated with her first day of the conference. She struggled finding quality sessions. I wanted to help her out but hadn’t looked at the sessions from her perspective but knew another teacher who had. I replied to her with the name of the teacher who could help her. The next day I saw the two of them meet up in the blogger’s cafe to map out some potential opportunities. The two had never met before.