Through assistance from our school, I recently attended ISTE 2014 Conference in Atlanta, GA, I learned about present technologies for classrooms as well as a glimpsed into what is coming down the line. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education. It was so near I felt it important to go to really grow in the area of integrating the tools our students need to be productive citizens in the coming years. I also sat at the feet of many of the leaders who I look up toward as examples of the type of leader I want to be. I met several of my professional learning network (PLN) friends I communicate with on Twitter, like @8Amber8 (Amber Teamann), @gcouros (George Couros), @cybraryman1 (Jerry Blumengarten) & @web20classroom (Steven Anderson). I also made quite a few more connections with like-minded educators. I saw through this conference that there are some applications that are underutilized at school like email, Edmodo, Remind, Google Hangout, Skype & Twitter, while others haven’t even been explored at our school, like 3D Printing, Nearpod, Thinglink, Padlet, and Voxer. Don’t get me wrong: Technology doesn’t replace great teaching, it enhances and in some cases, super-charges great teaching.
The conference was overwhelming, and at times, a daunting task. There were over 18,000 attendees, & over 1,700 vendors. There were more technologies being used by attendees and vendors than you can imagine. Steven Anderson gave me some good advice after asking me to give a shout out to our 4th Grade teacher, Mrs. Carrie Lee. He said, “Don’t attend sessions you know you can find on YouTube or that you agree with. Attend the sessions that stretch you and hang out in the different hangouts like Blogger’s Café to grow your PLN.” This was some of the best advice I received on how to be less overwhelmed. One of the best take-aways from the conference came from George Couros’ presentation on the 10 Myths of Technology. He said, “The biggest shift for educators using technology is not a skill set; it’s a mindset.” It reminds me that we do not need to be masters of all technologies. We need to be open to the technologies that support how we more rigorously, effectively and efficiently teach our students.
I had great conversations with Twitter friends about digital citizenship, how to engage teachers and students in more creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking in the classroom, & flipping professional development. There are too many people to mention. some notable new friends are @ curriculumblog (Steven Weber), @PetticrewC (Cathryn Petticrew), @mbfxc (Marialice BFX Curran), @JoAnnJacobs68 (JoAnn Jacobs) , & @padlet (Nitesh Goel). As I strive to be the best leader I can be, I am happy to have these connections to help me grow. Isn’t it wonderful to always find ways to challenge yourself to be better! I am so thankful to have an administration that sees the benefit of different forms of professional development, friends who will not allow me to remain static in my knowledge and colleagues/teachers/students/parents who want to continually be more prepared for the future before us. Enjoy the rest of summer! School will start before we know it.