Reflections from #ISTELive 22

It’s the morning after #ISTELive in New Orleans. I spent the last four days with educators and leaders and vendors and advocates and others from around the world of education. Reflecting is so important to me – almost as soon as something ends I like to think about how it went and how I could do it differently next time. I want to share some of those reflections today.

What worked:

  • Format – This year #ISTELive had a virtual and in person platform. It was SEAMLESS. And it worked for me! As an introvert, these large conferences overwhelm and drain me. As much as I learn from conversations and connections in every session, at every vendor table, in the halls and social events, it takes a huge toll on me. In past years I’ve hit the wall and headed back to my hotel to recharge for a bit…and was completely unable to attend any sessions that happened during that time I had to take care of myself. This format was different… I was able to attend in person, go to my room (or even a quiet space in the convention hall.

I didn’t have to choose between taking care of myself and learning at this year’s ISTE conference.

  • Variety of Sessions – In the past I’ve struggled to find sessions focused on what I was searching for. There were so many that were tool focused and not the deep learning I was searching for. This year, I found so many sessions focused on instruction, leadership, equity and coaching. Now, is this a difference in what was offered? Or in my ability to focus and select what I attended? I’m not sure, but I do know that I LOVE that this was a good thing!
  • Intention – I came in, not ready to absorb everything, but looking for specific things. On Tuesday morning I told a friend I was feeling frustrated and that I wasn’t excited about any one thing… but by Wednesday afternoon I attended sessions that had me jazzed up and ready to bring back to my work. I think this was a result of coming in with a goal – learning about leadership, coaching, equity and professional learning.
  • Ed Tech Poetry Slam – Monday night there were so many events to choose from. I chose to attend the one sponsored by K12 Leaders and Flocabulary. 12 incredible educators planned and prepared incredible poetry and spoken word to perform in front of an attentive crowd. These performances addressed equity and social justice issues as well as some light hearted reflections on education. I’m BLOWN AWAY by the talent that was on stage! Not to mention, these two companies put on a great event in a fabulous location.

What was a struggle:

  • I attended this conference on my own. As an introvert, it worked, but when I think about making real change back at my school, I have regrets. I would much rather have teacher leaders and admin here with me, not so we could hang out constantly, though the bonding and relationship building is important, but instead so we could discuss and plan for what we take back and how we change learning for all our teachers and students. I commit to asking/advocating for the team approach next year!
  • The Expo – this place makes me bonkers. I made two quick (less than 30 minutes) into the hall. And yet I spoke with educators who collected bags and bags of stuff or found that they hoped to spend a few hours and suddenly a whole day was consumed. I know this is a big deal for companies and an opportunity they rely on to get in front of those who purchase. YET, the absolute amount of waste in this place blows me away. The money spent on the booths, the swag that gets tossed away. How many tshirts and totebags and BEADS and stress balls end up in the trash in New Orleans or back at home? Having so many sessions presented in booths is frustrating – these sessions are sponsored and in such a noisy place (did I mention the overwhelming SIZE of this place, not to mention the noise level) that I have a hard time even considering attending any of those sessions.
  • Diversity – this conference continues to be out of reach for many educators. Price, timing make it an incredible challenge. I recognize the privilege I have to attend so many years in a row. Additionally, this conference, similar to education in general, has a ways to go till our attendance (educators, leaders, vendors, etc) reflects the lived experience of our students. There were very few sessions I attended that were not led by white men and women. There have to be changes that make this more accessible to all. We are ALL losing out by not hearing stories from all educators and leaders.

How can we equalize the opportunity to not just attend, but also to present and share the great things being done in ALL our classrooms and schools and districts?

I was able to attend more sessions during this ISTE conference than I think I’ve attended in years past. I used Good Notes and my iPad to take my notes all week long. I’ve tweeted them and added the images below. I’m excited that sessions are available for the next 6 months. I may find the time to listen to more sessions and add to this notebook. I’ll continue to post on Twitter with the hashtag #ISTELive.

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