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Learning at its Best

Ten Reasons I Enjoyed ISTE

On a previous post, I wrote some criticisms of ISTE based upon my initial impressions.  However, I ended up having a blast.  Here are my reasons I enjoyed ISTE:

  1. Convergence of Communities: It was fun to watch Javi the Hippie interacting with Jamie from Cooperative Catalyst as well as Angela Watson (one of the earliest bloggers to read my blog when it first began).
  2. Finding a Place: I’ve always felt like I was on the fringes of the ed tech, the ed reform or the edublogger communities, but this conference reminded me that I have a place within each one.  It was both humbling and empowering.
  3. Humility: I was surprised that some of the “big shots” were incredibly approachable.  I had great conversations with Shelly Terrell, Tom Whitby and Mary Beth Hertz and I realized that these people have a large following, not because they have access to the megaphone, but because they have a humble voice.
  4. Stories: It struck me, in sharing a pint with Chad, that I never knew his story.  Similarly, I never knew that David Wees taught in Thailand.  I realized that, in many cases, I had never realized the place behind the person.  I knew only dialogue and a little plot.  The in-person interaction became a time to know the larger narrative. I was surprised by the level of vulnerability in topics like how school had wounded us (thanks for the dialogue Paula) or in our difficulties in figuring out how to apply our beliefs about education to our own children.
  5. The Sessions: After attending both ISTE workshop and ISTE Unplugged sessions, I realized that behind the slick-marketed workshop titles were thoughtful educators who often knew more about a particular subject than I did.
  6. The City of Philadelphia: Whether it was a stroll around the murals, a chance to re-enact Rocky or a visit to the birthplace of the Constitution, the city often became an implied metaphor for various thoughts on education.
  7. Affirmation: I heard some of the kindest words about some of my most random work: sketchy videos, pencil blogs and geeky tweets (like #iste91 tweets).  I realize that this can be dangerous to seek out praise from fellow educators.  However, sometimes I find myself feeling distant, confused and ready to self-censor.   Similarly, I had the chance to tell people in person words that I rarely say online.
  8. Breaking Stereotypes: I came into the conference with stereotypes about tech conferences, vendors, private schools and STEM projects.  This conference forced me to confront these stereotypes in-person.
  9. Reconnecting: I met my former eighth grade teacher who had played a powerful role in my life. I was surprised when I found myself giving him a big hug.  It was a bold reminder that while characters may fade from the narrative, their influence will endure forever.
  10. My Team: Although I was often hard to get ahold of, I had a chance to spend time with the members of my team.  It was a glimpse into their humor, humility, authenticity and creativity and it was a reminder that my PLN is not limited to Twitter and blogging.

About John Spencer

I teach. I write. I live. I want to do all three authentically.


15 thoughts on “Ten Reasons I Enjoyed ISTE

  1. One major huge plus of this ISTE event John was meeting you and turning our online acquaintance into a friendship. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding me to be a technoluddite.

    Posted by dwees | June 30, 2011, 2:37 pm
  2. John,
    The brief chat that we shared was one of the highlights of the conference for me. I was so happy to share with you my admiration and appreciation for your writing and work. It was my pleasure to meet you and hope to connect live and in person again soon! If not, ISTE12 in San Diego! Thanks for taking the time to talk. It meant so much to me.

    Posted by Joan Young | June 30, 2011, 2:43 pm
  3. This post saves me the trouble of writing what I liked about ISTE11. I need only add that it was a pleasure meeting you and getting the chance to have some serious discussion as well as some frivolous talk.

    Posted by Deven Black @devenkblack | June 30, 2011, 2:59 pm
  4. John, I love the vulnerability and openness you express here in a circling back around your initial impressions of ISTE, and I know I can relate when I come to a meeting with an armature of criticality, and then end up being moved by the presence of everyone, the conversations, and the small moments.

    To me this is a reminder, yet again, that meeting each other in person matters so very much and I hope we COOP folks can do a lot of this in the coming year.

    Thanks John. I feel like I know you better, and I wasn’t even there.


    Posted by Kirsten | July 1, 2011, 2:37 pm
  5. i agree with Kirsten..
    I feel like I know you better, and I wasn’t even there.

    also – my age will allow it even if my intellect won’t – i felt like a parent watching her children encapsulated in the experience/joy of community. so happy you all met up face to face. thanks for sharing your stories back out.

    Posted by monika hardy | July 1, 2011, 8:01 pm
  6. It was so great to meet you and thank you again for coming to NWP Hack Jam.

    Posted by mrami2 | July 1, 2011, 8:27 pm
  7. where was my picture? You might not know who I am! Here I am logged in as real person so once again, here is my comment. Please delete the first one if at all possible!

    Hi John,
    Although we did not spend very much time together, I deeply appreciated the support you showed me when I was rambling on about something and also how you helped to support my student’s online project. Thank you for your moments of kindness!!!!

    Posted by Sue Levine | July 2, 2011, 12:28 am
  8. How do I get these damn comments to display in Comic Papyrus MS?

    John, this is both a wonderful account of what worked at #ISTE11 and a fulfilling counterpoint to your earlier post.

    Formalization and standardization are not the goals I’d set here, but how would you protect or incubate what worked for you at the next big thing so others could approach it without feeling overwhelmed in pursuing an experience like yours?

    The very best,

    Posted by Chad Sansing | July 5, 2011, 7:00 pm
  9. It was great to meet you, too, John! I love your pencil blog 🙂 I remember you making a comment about assuming people were of a certain age based on their online ‘accomplishments’ or persona. It’s so great to meet people face to face and as you say, ‘realize the place behind the person.’

    I’m glad you enjoyed Philly. You’re welcome back any time!

    Posted by marybethhertz | July 7, 2011, 2:07 pm
  10. Wish we had talked more in Philly. Glad you had a great ISTE experience!

    Posted by Scott McLeod | July 9, 2011, 11:01 am
    • No problem. I saw how busy you were when I was in the Blogger’s Cafe. I think everybody at that conference knew you. I went to your presentation, though, and really enjoyed it.

      Posted by johntspencer | July 9, 2011, 11:19 pm

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