Monday June 27th (I know, I know, it has been a while, a longggg while since I have shared here…insert hanging head of shame). I stepped on a plane before the crack of dawn and headed to ISTE 2016 (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference in Denver, Colorado. On the plane I was absolutely giddy, nervous and excited…really excited. I was excited to be representing a school and district that has always shown me unwavering support and encouragement, to finally to be going to my first ever ISTE conference, to learn from the best and to have a chance to be part of an incredible panel of woman to speak about one of my passions Sketchnoting (if you still doubt or dismiss the power of social media, the power of sharing your journey or power of sharing what you create…ask me to tell you about how moments and opportunities aligned for me to be on this ISTE panel and at my first ISTE conference).
Stepping off the plane I headed right to the convention center where the conference was getting ready to head into its first full day. Walking into the convention center I was instantly blown away. I had read how to survive and plan for your first ISTE, I had my schedule organized and I had my goals for what I wanted to learn. Nothing (not even everyone telling me repeatedly how big it was) prepared me for 14,000 educators from 72 countries. Nothing! Holy Wow!!
Checked in at registration and ready to get my learning on I headed to my first session. Walking through the massive space I scanned the people for a familiar face and was so happy the first faces I recognized were several of my ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) and Illinois educator peeps. Nothing like a familiar face to ease a girl’s nerves and make her feel more comfortable.
I spent the next two days attending sessions, listening to a powerful and a thought provoking keynote, sketchnoting that keynote (officially the hardest sketchnote I have ever sketchnoted), soaking in ideas, meeting amazing educators who I have gotten to know on Twitter face to face, being inspired and blown away by ignite speeches, sketchnoting 10 sketchnotes in 1 hour (wooo…it was like a sketchnoting sprint), connecting with others, being inspired by others, smiling, laughing, having wonderful conversations, sharing, idea talking and taking notes on so many new tools, resource and ideas.
Wednesday morning came and that meant it was time. It was time for the Sketchnoting in Education Panel that I was speaking on. As I walked into the room I got myself settled and ready to present. Looking up from the table I suddenly began to see them. Familiar faces….faces of new and old friends that had come to learn from us but more then that they had come to offer me hugs, incredible words of encouragements, to be the eyes I could make eye contact with in a sea of strangers and be there to share this moment with me. Oh my heart!
Overwhelmed by the moment, a calm came over me as the warmth these people shared came over me. The panel began, we shared our story, resources, ideas, strategies and ideas for sketchnoting in education. During this incredible moment, my knees knocked as I spoke but a calm came over the top half of me. I spoke. I shared. I taught others.
When the panel ended and I went over to hug a few friends that had stayed and an overwhelming feeling of everything came over me…overwhelming like ball up in a corner and cry in happiness overwhelmed. It was an incredible, awesome, overwhelming, amazing and a simply unforgettable moment.
As things wound down the next group to present came in. As I looked up from getting my things together I saw an educator I admire and adore…”Geeee OMG geeee it’s her!” I thought. I decided to go introduce myself and say Hi. Next thing I knew our arms were wrapped and hugs were exchanged. Another new friend came close, peaked in and in an instant her energy and smile filled our space.
”Totally!!! I know it’s like Oh My Gawd!” I said.
And right there…that was it! That simple moment, that single hashtag, that brought together for me the meaning of my time at ISTE and what ISTE is to me .
It is about face to face, people to people…it is about people.
Because when we really think about it, at its core, education, is really about and will always be about…PEOPLE.
About educators and students.
About breaking down our walls, connecting with others around the world, bring out the best in each other through compassion, selflessness, fearlessness, creativity and a deep and passionate heart.
About bringing out the best in our students by pushing our thinking, challenging each other, continuously learning, jumping into new ideas, exploring new possibilities so we can bring out the absolute very best in them.
About no matter how far things swing toward one program, tools, system idea or piece of technology it is still and will always, be about the ability of excellent teachers being able to consistently do innovative, fearless and creative things no matter what the tool, program, device or technology is and bring out the very best in all students.