School's Out, Who Cares? I'm Going to #ISTE14!

 Red Shirt Massacre by Alex Erde on  Flickr  (CC-BY).

Red Shirt Massacre by Alex Erde on Flickr (CC-BY).

By Sara Henschell

It is 11:00 pm, the night before school lets out for the summer. I should be sleeping, nay, dreaming of sleeping in and sugar plum fairies and no late papers.

But I am not, because I am too excited. I am going to ISTE!

Why am I so excited? Because I know that when I get to this conference, I will be so pumped up that I will ready to run next year’s race. I always feel like I am winning the race when I go to conferences, because I always learn a ton of new things. I know becoming a better teacher doesn’t work like that, but I can still try to be better than I was last year and have fun being dramatic at the same time. And I am going to do just that at my first time at ISTE.

Obviously, I am very excited about PersonalizED, the session I am co-facilitating with Margaret. I love teaching, I love talking to people and I love talking about what I do. Also, Margaret is my hero. So, no-brainer, this is going to be awesome. (We are only about 12 seats from being full, so run, don’t walk, to register!)

BUT, the thing I am most excited about is getting to be with people who care enough to spend their time trying to be better at what they do instead of only sitting on the beach. (Totally, going to sit on a beach…after ISTE.)

I am willing to bet that I am not the only person in the room for whom ISTE is the equivalent of going to a Star Trek Convention for a trekkie. I am also willing to bet that we are the kind of teachers who bounce ideas off each other via social media and I am also willing to put another chip on the table that we are all looking to expand our social teaching networks. Let’s do more.

There is someone in your building who needs a little push. You know who it is. They come to you to help them with tech stuff or teaching stuff. They know you know what all the cool new apps are. It is fun being the person who knows what the apps are, and always fun to share what you know with others. But, think about how much better your school culture would be if more people went out into the world and brought back knowledge and passion about what we do!

Think about how you are going to use what you are about to learn at ISTE or the College Board National Conference or the JEA Summer institute to teach another teacher to fish. How are you going to get them to take agency? Are you willing to go further and get that person to come to something with you? Maybe a local Edcamp? Maybe getting them to sign up for Sanderling or Twitter with instructions on how to get resources from following hashtags?

Why should you do this? Beyond school culture, there is the world out there that doesn't always view teachers the way we view ourselves. If we ever truly want to be taken seriously, we need to take ourselves seriously and think critically about what we do. One of the best ways think about something is through a change in perspective. Going elsewhere in the world, away from the cave of the classroom, and sharing and speaking with others is a great way to do that.

I am willing to bet that if you are reading this post, you already know that (man, do I have any chips left?) Think about all the new resources, tools, and methods, you would cultivate if you had multiple people getting new perspectives in many places. I get shivers just thinking about it.

Going to self-selected PD should be the norm, not the exception. Let's develop our profession. I will see you at ISTE.

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