I’m on a plane somewhere between San Deigo and Pheonix. My brain and body are tired. I even have on flat TOMS today, heels weren’t an option. This was a pretty exciting week for me. My first ISTE presentation, that went really well thanks to Cory and Michelle! I found out that I was chosen as one of the 25 people who will be able to attend NASA social for the Curiosity Mars rover landing at JPL in Pasadena. Plus getting a weeks worth of friends that I won’t see for around 350 more days. So I’m at that adrenailine crash moment. But no matter how hard I keep trying to turn my brain off and rest, it just keeps getting all stirred up. I keep thinking about how at least 20 times over last 2 days I sat down to write a blog post on the number one thing I learned at #ISTE12 and each time someone either came up to me and we started talking & hanging out or I got a tweet (not a text because I am phoneless right now, sad story) and the writing stopped. The crazy thing, did not bother one bit. Weird, huh?
This post is on exactly that, not the number one thing I learned at ISTE but the number 2 (I’ll post number one later- see how I did that, now you have to come back tomorrow!) The “interruptions” were important to me. Relationships with other educators are more than people to hang out with, but people who make me a better teacher, or even person.
It’s been a while since I’ve been on my twitter/social media soapbox, but I’m stepping back up there. This week I stayed in a house of 14 people. We were not only from different parts of the country but from different parts of the world. But I never once felt like we were strangers, we just all fell into our routines as almost a family. I even made the comment they should feel privileged bc they got to see me without make up and in hair rollers because NO ONE gets to see that hideousness. I presented with 2 people I can honestly say are my very good friends, and we live so far apart there was no physical “meeting” to prepare for the session until we got there, and even then it was just to go over everything and make sure the links on our site worked. Last night I sat and talked for hours with 2 people from Australia (one being Summer who I can honestly say is my new BFF and that last F is definately standing for forever!), some one from Scottland and 2 from the mid-west (which to southerners is pretty foreign) and it was never awkward. The reason this and so many other moments like this happened is because we are all connected and collaborate with each other. We share, we learn, we chat, and in the process of this we became friends and part of each other’s lives.
I saw a tweet (wish I knew who it was from) asking how many people do you think are at #iste12 and are on twitter. Everyone was throwing around numbers like 12% to 25%. I never really saw higher than that. It’s really sad, not just because they don’t have a group to hang out with while at conference but because they are missing out on learning. So many sessions and even in the two keynotes I attended I heard over and over about how classrooms need to be connected, now students need to be collaborating, and saw powerful examples of this, but if the teachers the selves are not doing this, I worry that when it is done in the classroom it will not have the impact it should. Common sense tells us that you can’t really teach something you do not know much about, right? I could not diagram a sentence if my life depended on it, no clue what a predicate is, so it probably would not be a good idea if I trade subjects with my coworker Stacey and started teaching ELA classes. It’s not much different here.
I saw a tweet go out from someone who has a pretty big following arguing with someone about how she knows plenty of great teachers who don’t use social media and was upset by that statement. I’m sure they are good teachers, but they are the ones leaving this conference excited to use a few new tools (I sat by one of those on my last flight) which is good, heck my season was on tools, so glad that was many of the teavher’s goals! But there are other teachers leaving excited about how their students are going to collaborate, share what they are doing to the world, make a difference in this world. To me that is greatness! That is how we prepare students for life outside of a cublical. This is where real problem solving and real connections are made. Had a conversation last night about how Americans are clueless about geography. I’m pretty sure the moment kids connect with someone from outside their bubble of a community, they know where that place is located. Students will not only see other cultures but start understanding them as well.
Huge things can happen, but we must become comfortable first. I’m not saying you must sign up for twitter now so you can be a popular person or have so many friends when you go to a conference. I’m saying connect through some form of social media so you can have this experience of connection. Once you see the power it will not be too difficult pass on to your students. Get connected, learn from each other, form relationships. Like Adam Bellow told me yesterday, “see you in 140 characters!”
(picture above by Kristina Peters)