Friday, July 1, 2016

#ISTE2016: The Experience

I arrived home in the wee hours of the morning on June 30th. Since then, I have been trying to imagine how I will capture the experience I had attending ISTE2016. It has so many layers, so many things I want to share.

Tonight I decided I just need to begin. It will take more than one post for sure.

Since I knew I was going, I also knew it was divine intervention that was getting me there. I did not and could not see the possibility that I could be there. But that is how He loves to work...when it looks impossible, He shows that all things are possible.

I have to thank publicly those who made it happen. First, my friend, Leka. Leka received word that she would be awarded the Kay L. Bitter, Vision Award at ISTE. A well deserved honor! She is responsible for so many changes in my teaching and growth in the last two years. She invited me to stay with her. We both were hoping I could find my way there.

Being there with her was indescribable. I was there to see her receive her award. What an incredible experience that was. I know first hand the vision she has for herself and her students.  I saw her interact with her PLN and she takes these relationships serious. She sees the power of a PLN and connecting and collaborating. I met face to face with Karen, who was Leka's first connection and also winner of the same award 2 years ago. It is awesome to see that chain of reaction on how we each grow, change and inspire others. I also was able to see Leka as a learner. Leka has always pushed me to really reflect as we plan our collaborations and lessons for learning. One of her quotes I just love, "it isn't all about the tools, it is about the learning." She will always reflect, how can we use the tools to take them deeper and further? How can we use them to empower them as learners and give them authentic audience? I am so glad I became connected two years ago. Our first collaboration was GRA 2014. So how cool for us to run into and meet Pernille, creator of the GRA project AND we met and had our 2014 GRA books signed by Peter and Paul Reynolds, the author we studied that year.

So, then there still remains the question, how did I get there? Last summer I had the privilege, along with Leka, to be early sign on teachers with the app Easyblog. We were both in search of a tool to keep our students blogging. We found our answer in Easyblog. We also found a supportive and incredible team. We worked closely with them this year. We truly loved the tool they had created and began to share this tool with others. We became so convinced with this tool and how it can help teachers, we became a part of the team. When they reached out to let me know they would support and help me get to ISTE I could not even believe it. It is an example of how this team believes in teachers, each of them being one themselves. It was awesome to meet one of our team at ISTE and had a great dinner and conversation as well. I do not have the words to thank them, for the experience and for the tool I am completely sold on!

This is a piece of what the ISTE experience meant for me. I have so  much more to share. I will continue to gather and organize my thoughts. I have inspiration, learning and just moments of WOW to still share.