Thursday, June 30, 2011

11 Mistakes I Made At #ISTE11

Ok, so I know that I usually strive to share upbeat, inspiring, positive posts, but I think it's also valuable to share those moments when I goof up.  I model this important, "learning from mistakes" business for students all the time, so why not model it for adults I collaborate with.  Although I had a fabulous time at #ISTE11, learning so much and meeting so many wonderful people, I made quite a few mistakes, some of which I will share here!

  1. Too polite! Really? Can someone really be "too polite?" Well, there were so many times that I was right by people I wanted to meet and share my gratitude for all the work they do with kids and share with their PLN ( Professional Learning Network) but I didn't talk to them. Why? Well, on several occasions, they were already talking to someone else. Check out how silly I felt this morning when the gracious Sylvia Martinez and the hilarious Steve Dembo set me straight!

These tweets tell the story! I will not be reluctant again!       

 2. Miss the events prior to the conference, like EdubloggerconSince I was a newbie to #ISTE11, I did not realize that this event precedes the conference every year. A free conference, open to all who arrive just one day earlier..ugh..a no-brainer! How did I miss out? I was in the midst of the school year when all of the arrangements were made, and I was writing up a grant proposal so that I would get to attend. Anyway, this is a mistake that I will NOT make again. I heard some awesome reports on Edubloggercon so I will definitely be watching any recordings and catching up soon!

3. Didn't make specific plans. Although I read several posts with great advice about what to do and not to do at #ISTE11, I did not make specific, "let's do lunch" or coffee plans with times/dates.  I did make connections with people, texting and meeting at Bloggers Cafe, but I then got caught up in a flurry meeting others and didn't have time to really talk in depth. In case you are someone I happened to be with and perhaps walked away from, I apologize. I was highly distracted by the excitement of meeting so many people. I am also a shy kid at heart so my anxiety perhaps also kept me not as attentive as I could have been.

4. Sight-seeing: There I was, in historic Philadelphia, and I only took a couple of hours Sunday afternoon to see Independence Hall with the gracious Ronnie Burt escorting a group of folks to a tour. Thanks Ronnie and Edublogs! There were many sights I wanted to see, but didn't want to miss any of the conference.  I did manage to do something right and got a few photos!
So lucky to be with my buddy, Nancy, a wonderful 3rd grade teacher I get to work with every day!

Inside the Visitor's center

Thinking of all who sat here! Wow

George Washington really sat here?

George's Sunrise Chair       

5. Taking adequate time to choose ticketed sessions carefully : I had a tight deadline at my school and had to choose my ticketed sessions way too quickly. My fault for not taking the time for me!  Next time, I will anticipate the early bird registration timeline and read the options more carefully. 2 out of 3 of my ticketed sessions were fabulous, but one really let me down, as it was selling a platform and I didn't really note that as I signed up.

6. Taking "outside" breaks! For two days, I suffered with a sinus/migraine headache that may have been related to so many factors, one being recycled air!  Next time, I will invite people I want to talk to on a walk somewhere, out of the unventilated inside air.

7. Eating right: I know what you're thinking. She ate too many Philly cheesesteaks! Actually, I honestly forgot to eat, which only happens when I am deep in learning or creating. When I did remember to eat, I ate very healthy foods, but there were times that I literally forgot to eat. Thanks to my roomie, Nancy, we picked restaurants with yummy healthy food for dinner.

8. Pictures: I did take several pictures of people as I met them, but there were times I was a bit shy about it. Next time, look out! 

9. Losing track of ideas inspired by conversation: Some of my conversations generated creative bursts in my head; new apps I want to develop or ways to use a tool. I did take notes and record sessions in an app on my ipad, but I should have just done a quick voice recording each time an idea hit me.

10. Sharing my own work: I never want to be one of those people who pushes their "stuff",  but I really should have passed out more of my cool business cards that I made just for the event. I am sure that my publisher would have appreciated a few mentions.  Oh I stink at self-promotion! 

11. Getting my feelings hurt:  Yes, I am one of those people who has been told, "You need to develop thicker skin." Don't worry.. I know this and work on not taking things personally quite often. Anyway, to the point...
There are people I regularly converse with on Twitter, and in the months preceding the conference, I imagined how fun it would be to hang out and talk live with them. Most everyone I met was so gracious and warm, and the experience of that glimmer of mutual recognition upon sharing our Twitter names, followed by a huge hug, was incredible! Unfortunately, when I finally did meet one of these people I thought I "knew", I was not met with a warm welcome. I was taken aback and a bit hurt.  I realize that this person's behavior could have been related to so many factors and even tried again later to connect. Once again, I was dismissed.  I was sad, but realized that this is one of those parts of social media that we don't talk that much about. People are not always who they "project themselves" to be. I then thought of how kids feel when not one of the, "cool kids."
I also had the experience of introducing myself and telling someone I follow on Twitter how I appreciated what she shared there. She gave me a half-smile, half-blank look and turned away. Wow, I looked at her profile later and saw that she hardly followed anyone, was presenting at ISTE11, but perhaps was too important to talk to someone like me. That's life, I guess. Next time, I will be prepared for that response. 

I will definitely be sharing more about what I learned at ISTE11. What mistakes did you learn from at #ISTE11?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Promised..

I promised myself and my friends out there who are not here at #ISTE11 that I would blog, tweet, and keep them in the loop with the events, learning, connecting happening at lightning speed here. This is one attempt, as I have been here since Saturday night and have barely had time to capture a coherent thought, never mind convert it to the written word!

Here are a few highlights so far, and I am sure many more posts will enter my conscious mind when I jump on that plane to come home tomorrow night. ( which, now at the time of this edit, is actually tonight.)

First, I've heard others say, "I've learned more in conversations with my PLN than I have in official conference sessions." For the most part, I must say, that's been true for me as well. Although I have attended a few sessions with "new learning," much of the resources I have already become acquainted with through my amazing PLN. Here's a picture of just one example of collaboration happening in the Blogger's Cafe, which is a big open space where people are connecting and sharing.

Kevin Honeycutt leading a great jam session!

My most favorite part of the conference has been meeting people that I have learned with, collaborated with, shared deep conversations with through Twitter, blogging, online conferences and Skype sessions. Here are a few photos of meeting these wonderful folks!
So thrilled to meet Jana @Mollybmom and Jennifer @Saskateach from Canada. They are wonderful ladies who share so much!

The wonderful Karen McMillan or McTeach, as I know her on Twitter, meeting up for the 2nd time ever! 

The fun and dynamic, Nick Provenzano, or @thenerdyteacher as I know him on Twitter!
The fabulous Paula Naugle, @plnaugle who is a gift to all of us in our PLN.
 The dynamic Angela Maiers, @angelamaiers with George Couros @gcouros and Dean Shareski @shareski

The talented John Spencer, @johntspencer who is such a great guy and fabulous writer!
The very kind and inspiring Ken Shelton, k_shelton, also from California!
So great to meet Cory Plough @mrplough07!

The warm and bubbly Shelly Terrell or @ShellTerrell who inspired me to use Twitter and blog more regularly!

Meeting these friends, and I do consider them real friends, has felt like coming home. After almost 2 years on Twitter, I have come to know people better than I know some of my every day, face to face colleagues.  There are so many wonderful folks I have met, and I know I will forget some in this list so forgive me in advance: Karen Janowski, Kyle Pace, Deven Black, Jerylene Nemanich, Paula White, Becky Fisher, Marybeth Hertz, Gerald Aungst, Ann Leaness, Katie Hellerman, Angela Watson, Amanda Dykes, Beth Still, Michelle Baldwin, Shannon Miller, Mike Ritzius, Ken Royal, Shawn Ram, Tom Whitby, Jeremy MacDonald, Jason Schrage, Susie Toso, Ronnie Burt, Kristina Peters, Colette Cassinelli, Jackie Gerstein, JoAnn Jacobs, Kevin Honeycutt, and the fabulous Elana Leoni and Betty Ray from Edutopia.
I was absolutely thrilled to chat with the fabulous administrators and leaders I have connected with on Twitter: Pam Moran, Lyn Hilt, Patrick Larkin, Dave Meister, George Couros, and others I may be forgetting at the moment!
George Couros @gcouros and Patrick Larkin @bhsprincipal

It is difficult to put into words how I feel today after sharing and learning with all of these people from around the world. Energized, inspired, and grateful are the feelings that pop to mind. How about you?

Friday, June 24, 2011

From the Virtual Conference Room to the Live Action: How I'll be Savoring ISTE11

I remember this time last year so vividly: scanning Twitter and reading all of the messages about the ISTE10 conference in Colorado. I can't forget feeling sorry for myself that I was not there meeting the people I often shared with and chatted with online.  I attended sessions and learned lots, discovering resources and new people to follow, but still felt a bit envious of those who were sharing the wonder of meeting face to face for the first time, but feeling like lifelong friends. I don't want to forget that experience, mostly because it will remind me how very fortunate I am to be attending the ISTE11 conference this year.

What will I do to make the most of my Philadelphia learning adventure, or as my Canadian friend, Jen, is calling it her, Techcellent Adventure?

  • I will be open and present as much as possible. I anticipate, after my experience at ASCD11 this past March, that the convention center will be a bit overstimulating and intimidating at times. I will stay in the moment and enjoy the opportunities to share a conversation, meet a new friend, and learn something to bring back to my practice. 
  • I will let go and have fun! Yes, I am there to learn, and that is what I will be doing, but who says a little "Double Dream Hands" flash mob is going to get in the way!  I'm also signed up for the EdTech Karaoke, which will be great fun. Let's see if I get up the nerve to actually sing ;-) 
  • I will tweet and blog my learning: I really appreciated those who were there sharing live, in the moment last year. I have several friends, especially Lisa Dabbs and Greta Sandler, who will be with me in spirit. I want to be someone who gives graciously and shares the learning. We really never know when a tweet will inspire someone else to explore and discover. 
  • I will take care of myself with exercise and sleep! I know that I am one of those people who has a hard time sleeping when I am away from  home. There's that little kid part of me who feels like she might, "miss something," if she goes to sleep too early. I doubt I will be going to sleep early but I will make it a point to get enough sleep to be ready to learn and meet new faces. I also plan to walk everywhere and hope, no plan!, to run at least 2 of the days I am there :-) Maybe I will find some #temt folks to run with!
  • I will spend time brainstorming and debriefing with the 2 fabulous teacher colleagues that will accompany me. We will have a chance to bring ideas back and transform the learning of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders at our school. What a gift this will be! 

Before I forget, thanks to all of the bloggers who have written helpful posts for us ISTE newbies. I especially appreciated this post by Steve Dembo: What Not to do at ISTE and many others that I am suddenly forgetting due to my excited state! 

 I can't wait to get to Philadelphia tomorrow. But first, there's a long to-do list off I go! How will you make the most of your ISTE11 experience, whether live or in the virtual capacity? Please share :-) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fan of Someone's Work? Reach Out and Say So!

This morning I lounged in bed with my coffee while finishing up the book, Play, by Stuart Brown, M.D. on the ipad. I enjoyed the book so much (even reading it actually for the second time) that I wanted to learn more about the non-profit foundation founded by Dr. Brown, The National Institute for Play. One link led to another and I decided to find out if Dr. Brown would be lecturing locally in the near future.

 I filled out a form on his website with this message:

I am wondering where I can find information about any public speaking engagements for Dr. Brown. I live in Santa Cruz, Ca and work in Menlo Park, CA so anywhere in N. California would be great.
I am a teacher and former therapist/social worker and write a blog :
My mission is to help others understand some of the simple changes and choices we can make to help kids thrive and flourish. I am a huge fan of the book Play and all of your work.

Please send me any appearance info that is available! I would love to hear Dr. Brown speak.

Thanks so much,

Joan Young

Needless to say, I was delighted to discover the following email in my inbox, not even a half hour later! 

Hi, Joan-thanks for your interest in hearing me speak. I am about to head for a Brain and Learning symposium in Michigan, followed by a DC presentation. My summer is thereafter focused on writing, with my next presentation in Monterey over the Labor Day Weekend. Kristen Cozad schedules my itinerary, and she is currently on vacation , but will be available after July 5. I enjoyed your blog, and wish you well.


Stuart Brown

Sometimes we, (or maybe that should be, I)  get intimidated by others' status or  think that they won't have any interest in us, regular people doing common, but very important work. I am excited when an "expert" in the field whose mission is so closely related to mine takes the time to respond to my questions.  I do hope to meet Dr. Brown and hear him speak in the near future; as you may notice, I have a few past posts here, highlighting my belief in the importance of play.

This is the mission of the National Institute for Play, which, I think, lies at the core of what can so powerfully improve education and society:

The National Institute for Play believes that as play is woven into the fabric of social practices, we will dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate.

And with that, I ask you: How do you utilize the gift of play to enhance your life and the lives of those you touch every day? Please share your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Look Them in the Eyes

My kids, all grown up!
**Note: As you read this post, please don't get the impression that I don't understand the importance of cultural differences with regard to eye contact and showing respect. I fully embrace the myriad of different ways that mindful attention can be given between people; as one of my commenters so eloquently reminded me, the point is to remember to be fully and genuinely present to show that you care for others.  

Don't get me wrong. I am attached to my tech devices: taking photos, checking email, texting friends and family, but I am growing painfully aware of the costs associated with non-stop information and consumption on our most valuable relationships: missing out on important face to face moments with our students, colleagues, and loved ones.

This year, in my first year teaching 4th grade, I was shocked at how often I would ask students to look at me to show they were listening to me.  This was not an outright sign of disrespect from them as much as it was a product of our culture. When I asked if they looked at each other while talking at home, many students exclaimed: "My parents are always looking at their phones!" I encouraged them to say, ever so politely, to their parents: "Please look at me, so I know you are really listening." I fervently checked my email over the following few days, certain that someone would be angry at my lesson to their children, but not one ever arrived. Maybe no one went home and asked..though I hope they did.  I continued to request that students look at each other as they shared ideas in the classroom. Eventually, it became a least some of the time!

Of course, I then became aware of my own behavior: when I was not looking at someone talking to me! I often caught myself multi-tasking when others talked to me, cleaning up or writing an email when another teacher came to my room to visit, or picking up papers while a student was asking me a question; I consciously made a point to stop and fully listen.  After all, if a huge percentage of communication is non-verbal, what am I missing by not using the incredible sense of vision that allows me to see the person's revealing facial expression and expressive body language?

So,  please, especially when interacting with children, look them in the eyes. ( or show them full presence in a way that makes sense in their culture)  For that matter, make it a habit with everyone.  Let them know you are fully listening. The rewards are certainly worth it!