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Thursday
Jun292017

Student focused ISTE '17

After being gone from work for the past 10 days (vacation, then conference), I've not had much time to reflect, let alone write, about this week's ISTE's event in San Antonio. Most years I've attended (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015)  I experienced a love/hate relationship with both the conference and the organization, but happily this year, I was feeling the love.

More than in past years, the focus was on kids and the acknowledgement that a joy of learning, an education of the whole self, and the power of creation and creativity, trump test scores. From wonderful speakers like Jennie Magiera* and Vanessa Jones who spoke to issues of empowerment through technology to a expo floor full of vendors with exciting books and "maker toys" and creative software - hard to believe KidPix is still a big deal, after what nearly 30 years?, - this year's theme was about not just teaching, but about making active, involved, and happy students - especially those who schools who have not traditionally served successfully.

It was a pleasure co-presenting with our district technology integration coordinator, Rachel Gorton, on how our district is employing technology using the principles of cultural proficiency. I felt we were very much in keeping with a major conference strand and cutting-edge drive in the ed tech world.

I took away a new appreciation for telling people on my team how much they are appreciated. Our staff meeting "grounding" activities from now on will focus solely on the positive. And every tech director seems to be feeling the pain of increased need for security and infrastructure in his/her schools.

The new CEO Richard Culatta seems like a good guy and great folks like Jessica Medaille are still giving it their all. Good to see old friends at the Awards Lunch and President's Reception. I was happy to NOT get a print program and seemingly less paper-based promotional material in my unnecessary conference tote. The conference app seemed more clunky this year than most.

I am not sure how much I like the new, enlarged convention center in San Antonio - I spend a heck of a lot of time getting from one session to another. And in general, the whole conference just seemed to be bigger and more crowded than ever. Of course I have never been one for crowds. The Riverwalk was a zoo each evening I was there for a dinner and my motel was a total dump (Rodeway Inn at Riverwalk) and this from someone who does not have high standards in accommodations. And can't you do something about that humidity, Texas?

Each year I wonder if taxpayers get their money's worth sending me to a conference like this. How much will what I've learned, what I've felt, what I've observed have an impact on the students and teachers in our schools? I always hope I can honor their faith in me to MAKE the money spent, well spent. This year it will be a bit easier to do so.

Oh, I finally just have to admit I am an awkward hugger. Lovely people whom I like very much (or who I don't recognize but who remember me) expect hugs. I rather like hugs, but as a Minnesotan, I just am not real comfortable with them. Nothing personal to anyone who got a clumsy hug from me this conference.

* Being young, Jenny does not yet realize that "be yourself" is the worst advice you can give some people.

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