Plans for ISTE

Plans for ISTE

In 3 more Fridays, I will be journeying my way to San Antonio for my 5th ISTE Conference.

My first ISTE/NECC was in Philadelphia in 2005 — I was a scared little kitten, knew NOBODY, left knowing NOBODY — but lots of good learning, and many good memories. — side trips to DC, Gettysburg, & Atlantic City are memorable!!

My second ISTE/NECC was in San Diego in 2006 — I was there to receive an award and knew a few more people, but still quite the loner. Biggest memory of this conference was geo-caching and wandering into a live radio show via CUE. (pre-ITM days)

Then onward to ISTE/NECC Atlanta 2007 — Because of the Edublogger Con and Bloggers Cafe — I went from knowing NOBODY to growing a circle of friends, encouragers, and enlighteners!! It IS my favorite ISTE/NECC so far!

Last year I attended ISTE 2012 in San Diego — A bit more comfy with the whole HUGE conference feeling, enjoyed hearing Sir Ken, and seeing friends!

And this year — San Antonio –

So, if you have also attended several — or if this will be your FIRST BIG Conference…..
here are 10 helpful suggestions for you to consider!

1. Use the conference planner and FILL IT TO THE BRIM with options!
Overplan and overbook!! Then save it as a pdf and use it as a reference — NOT as carved in stone. I have gone one step further and shared it with my admin and asked them what they would like me to attend….so now it is not just MY CONFERENCE but OUR Conference.

2. Don’t just be approachable but APPROACH.
Many many people will be meeting you for the very first time or you might be meeting people for the first time and (no matter what people might argue) IT IS intimidating to approach someone you admire (perhaps on twitter or blog) to say “HI.” It is not impossible, but it can be intimidating. So, if you are “known” — take the time to look up ever so often from those conversations you might be having with others to see if someone is standing nearby you can invite in. And if you are a newbie who is scared….take a deep breath and join the group too!!

3. Hear new voices!
I say this again and again — but it can not be said enough — take the time to HEAR NEW VOICES!! Sure, go and hear your favorite people but don’t limit your entire conference to hearing conversation you have already heard (and been involved with) before.

4. Hit the exhibit hall
Sure, it is a marketing extravaganza, and don’t let the salesman/woman tell you what you can do with their product — don’t be afraid to touch, ask, etc….
I they have a canned presentation, direct them off the speech to personalize it down to your campus.

5. Get away
San Antonio is a beautiful city, so I am told….so I am looking forward to checking out the sites. Seeing the Alamo is a bucket list item and walking the River Walk is something I cannot wait to do. But mostly, I am looking forward to not making the entire week of ISTE tech….I need some away time to decompress.

Listen to conversations, check out twitter for events, etc for the “after the day is over” events. Google usually has something, edmodo might, pretty much ALL the big vendors will have something — so be brave and get an invitation! And then meet and greet new educators!

7. Blog, Tweet, Google Doc and more!
Best thing I saw recently was someone opening a Google Doc during a session and inviting everyone to join in the conversation…..Better than a hashtag on twitter — in my most humble opinion! But regardless of what option you use — extend your thoughts beyond your own mind. Share out what you are learning, invite conversation!!

8. Say NO
There is going to be way more than you can do — say no to something.
Someone might say you “MUST do this in your classroom” — say no, and remember each classroom is unique.
An exhibitor might try to sell you something that is “OH AH” but you know you don’t need — say no, don’t be tempted by the sparkle .
You are going to be tempted to stay up til 3AM and then be up again at 7AM — say no, your brain needs to rest, A GOOD REST, so you can be ready to learn the next day

9. Be a part of the conversation!
EdReach is going to be having live shows pretty much every hour during ISTE and is looking for people to join in the conversation! If you want to join in — let EdReach know!

10. Bring something you can share with others so they will remember you!
Put your twitter name on your name badge, have a qr code business card, create badge ribbons to share (I am seriously considering this)…..but find a way, that when ISTE is over… will be remembered!

Oh — and one more!

11. Say “HI” to me!
I go to ISTE for 2 reasons — 1 is to learn — the other (much more important) is to connect with educators. when then enables me to LEARN! So, if you see me….say “HI”. And if you see me dashing, feel free to slow me down!

I would appreciate hearing your thoughts too as you plan for ISTE — or any other summer opportunity of learning.

Jennifer Wagner, creator of ProjectsByJen, has been helping teachers since 1999 to use online projects in their PreK-6 classrooms. Read more at