July 2, 2014

My Reflections from ISTE 2014

For the last few days, I've been trying to figure out how I could possibly sum up the weekend I spent at ISTE 2014.  ISTE's (International Society for Technology in Education) annual conference is basically the biggest edTech conference known to man.  People come from all over (literally) to immerse themselves in all things technology.  My school district received a grant that allowed several teachers to attend this year.  Of course, I jumped on the chance to simply be among those lucky enough to go.  

I was not disappointed.

This year's conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia.  What a beautiful city!  I stayed about a mile away from the conference itself, and this was the view from my window.

Yes, we were that high up.  33rd floor to be exact.

I attended quite a few sessions on PBL, Genius Hour, and basic eLearning stuff.  In all of the sessions, one thing that stuck out to me was that nothing was really specific to technology, but instead to student creation.  

I've made it no secret that I believe students learn best when they make an investment in their learning.  They have to be passionate about what they are learning, whether it's letters and sounds, Worksheets are not an investment or engaging.  

If I had to have just one takeaway from this weekend, it would be that our students deserve this.  Technology is a fantastic tool in giving your students all of the resources they could possibly need to attain their goals, but technology is definitely not the end all, be all.  Good teaching is still the most important thing.  

In the Genius Hour session, Vickie Davis (@coolcatteacher) encouraged us to focus on three takeaways from the conference.  Here are my big three:

"The biggest shift for educators using technology is not skill set; it's mindset"--George Curous

I missed out on his session, but I'm an avid reader of Mr. Curous' blog.  This quote from his session (taken from Twitter) resonates with how I've felt about technology as of late.  It's not about the technology; it's a mindset change.  Technology is a tool that can enhance and transform your teaching.  Key words--YOUR TEACHING.  How can I best exude this to my colleagues?

"You are a genius, and the world needs your contribution."--Angela Maiers

I have written about my love of PBL before, but this year, I really want to expand on it.  I would love to give my students more opportunities to show their genius.  Even though they are five, they have passions and interests that need to be honored.  I hope I can do that for my students.

"Don't talk about it.  Be about it.  How is your want to?"-- Kevin Carroll

Of everything ISTE had to offer, Kevin Carroll's keynote on day two inspired me more than anything else I've encountered in a long time.  Carroll told his story of being abandoned by his mother at a young age and working his way through life, eventually working for major companies such as Nike, and having all kinds of crazy cool life experiences.  

In his keynote, he inspired me to make sure to work hard, play harder, and inspire hardest.  I choked up more than once in his keynote, and I'm not a cryer.  When school starts, I want to inspire those around me to give their students the very best experience they can.  I want them to realize they are the biggest asset to their classrooms, not the technology.  I want to encourage them to use the technology, of course, not because our district has invested time and money into it, but because that technology gives students experiences we could have never imagined at their age.  

My want to is strong.  My passion is ignited.  I am ready to get to it.


  1. Amen! This was my first ISTE and I was similarly overwhelmed with how amazing it was. You have done a great job summing up the feeling. Now our job is to keep that passion going and implement the ideas that we've taken away from this event. Here are my thoughts on the conference:

  2. I am sad I missed this conference. =( I am in Alabama so I totally could have made it! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    Ms. Smith
    Adventures of Ms. Smith