Saturday, June 29, 2013

ISTE Reflections

Connections. My biggest takeaway from ISTE 13. Connections.

One of the strongest connections I've had outside my family circle was with Michele. It was the two months between 6th and 7th grade, and we had endless summer days filled with endless summer fun in the Western NY humidity. We didn't go to water parks, take vacations to the lake, or even family road trips. We ran through the rapidly growing corn fields, picked wild strawberries in the woods, and rolled down the hills known as our backyards. I received my first kiss that August, and the first person I told was Michele. When that young man, Kenny, was seen kissing another girl, she was the one who organized a sleepover so Janet, Mary, and Michele could help me feel better. Unfortunately, the fun didn't last; as 7th grade came to a close, my dad loaded up the station wagon and moved us west--to mosquito free California. Thanks to technology, specifically Facebook, Michele and I have been able to reconnect. Sure we can’t climb a tree together or swim together in the Allegany River, but we are connected.

Which brings me to ISTE 13. Technology and Connections.

My biggest takeaway from ISTE. Being a leader, leading innovative change, moving a team forward…it’s about the connections. For me it is important that I don’t confuse connections with networking. I connected. Okay I did a little networking, but overall, I made connections.

I made my first connections during the opening keynote. I grabbed the hands of a stranger, played a game of thumb wars, and connected. We giggled, we high fived, and we exchanged names and challenges. Who would have thought I would have connected with a speech on gaming? But I did!

The importance of connections came up again during my motivating session by George Couros. He suggested we “make sharing the default”. I made more connections during that session via Twitter and #iste13. And then again as I marched from booth to booth in the expo; chatting with businesses who already provide services to Sierra and RUSD and with those who would like to in the future. Starting conversations and making small talk isn’t difficult for me, but this was more than idle chat. I was learning, I was sharing, and I was connecting.

What may have been the biggest ISTE moment for me came during the Tuesday morning keynote address. Stephen Johnson talked about connections; connecting with a diverse group of people, connecting ideas over time, and connecting thoughts that may not be ready or related when they first come to you. He said this is what leads to innovation and this is where big ideas come from.

Not all connections came during keynotes, registered sessions, or even happened in the conference center. I traveled with six other members of the Sierra team, and we bonded, mingled, merged…connected. And we sang karaoke!

Since I left ISTE I have been connected; connected to the internet, connected to my new friends and teachers via Twitter, and connected to the ideas swirling in San Antonio and in my brain. I hope to continue to connect with ideas and with people…just not with Kenny from 7th grade.

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