Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ISTE 2011 - Day Four and Final Thoughts

Now that I'm home, I want to reflect on my last day at ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia and share a few thoughts on my experiences at the conference.  The past four days have been a whirlwind of learning, networking, and discussion that was one of the most intense and enlightening periods of my teaching career.  For the first time in my career, I was in an environment where the majority of people I interacted with shared my passion and vision for transforming and/or revolutionizing our current educational practices.  That was an amazingly powerful experience that I find hard to fully describe.

Here are some of the things that I took away from my last day at ISTE:
  • I started the day by having breakfast with Dyane Smokorowski at an Amish eatery in Reading Terminal Market.  Speaking with her was one of the highlights of my trip.  I am a great admirer of what she does in her 8th grade classroom and her views on global collaboration.  Even though we had never met face-to-face before this conference, I feel like I've known her for a long time.
  • I got another chance to browse the poster sessions in the morning.  It seemed like a lot more of the sessions were math based, which made me happy.  One teacher was showing how to use one of my favorite tools, Geogebra.  In the student showcase section there was a group of high school girls showing off the robotics they had created and the software they used to design them.  Their session was mobbed, and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to speak with them or get more information.  Their work was very impressive.  
  • For the first time, I saw Kevin Honeycutt present.  I feel fortunate that I got to spend quite a bit of time with Kevin and got to know him over the past few days.  His presentation was awesome.  He speaks with an authenticity that I've never heard from a presenter before.  The audience was as engaged as any I've ever seen.  One of my favorite quotes from his talk came when he was discussing cell phone policies:  "Kids used to pass notes on paper.  We never banned paper!  Get real!"  The video below is Kevin presenting the same session last year.
  • After that session, I said my goodbyes to the people who have been so incredible to be around for the past four days.  I look forward to the next opportunity I have to see them in person.  Until then, I appreciate the fact that they are a part of my PLN. 
  • As incredible as ISTE was, the best part of my day was when I walked in the door at home after a 2.5 hour drive and my two children came running up to me and gave me a big hug while yelling, "Daddy! Daddy!"  In moments like that I am reminded that I am the luckiest man in the world.