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?


Elvira G. Deyamport, Ed.S. said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Joan! I am preparing to present and attend my first national conference at the National Association for Gifted Children Convention this November and I will keep your tips in mind. In the past, I have tried to talk to others at conferences, but very few people seem interested in sharing or even having a brief discussion. This isn't going to stop me though! I will be armed with my business cards and a smile. And by the way, if and when I see you anywhere, expect a HUGE hug from me!

Colette Cassinelli said...

This is my third ISTE and I have had every range of emotion that you wrote about in your post after each conference. I know I did not connect f2f with everyone I wanted to at ISTE but I know that my online connections will continue to deepen those relationships - there is only so much time.

This year I was more content to just be in the same hangout because I know that if at some point this school year, I need to reach out to one of them, they will be there for me. I am always more likely to respond to a tweet by a person who I met f2f.

Your reaction to the conference is very normal - both positive and negative. I like that you have reflected on your experience and hope to grow from it. Isn't that what we want from our students too?

PLNaugle said...


Thank you, thank you, thank you for overcoming your shyness and walking up to me to introduce yourself. I would have been sadden to leave ISTE11 without having met you F2F.

We need to circulate this post prior to ISTE12 because it contains such great advice. I am sad that we didn't get to "do" lunch or something where we could have spent more time chatting, but that is one of the hard realities of ISTE - too much to do, too many to see, and not enough time. While I regret that we didn't have more time together, I am thrilled that we met, so that now we will feel even more connected online.

Now that you've reflected on regrets, relish in the joy and wonder of things that did go right for you at ISTE. Until next time...

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thank you so much Elle, Colette, and Paula. There were so very many things that I did "right" and did meet many people and savored the moments I did get to share with them.
I think that reflecting on the so-called mistakes gives even more beauty to the things I did right. Thank you for commenting and helping me to clarify my feelings.

Brandi Heinz Brown said...

I'm so glad I got to spend time with you at ISTE! You're a wonderful person doing really amazing things with your students. You're one of those people who make me want to go to work every day and support. Just think how much you learned - and next ISTE will be even better!
I think another point to bring up is to not be afraid to be a connector. You introduced me to a few people I didn't know before, and I probably wouldn't have met, so thank you!

Cheryl said...

Thank you for sharing this post, and I'm so glad I got to chat with you briefly. I also noted how Twitter PLNs can be strange and complicated face to face. I think my own personal mistakes also came from being in a new city all the way across the country. If I get to go to San Diego next year, I certainly plan on doing things a little differently.

Anonymous said...

Although I wasn't there this is a great learning reflection and I plan to use your advice at my first ISTE12. The part I felt most connected to was your idea of people you meet and what your expectations were. I had a blog post in my head about it that you may inspire me to write about the way people interact with the PLN. I hope most were what you expected and only a few disappointed. Great reflection!

Sara Neville said...

Wow, I am so glad I found your post. I felt EXACTLY the same way on many accounts. I was definitely too shy, felt dismissed when I did garner up the courage to say hello to someone, and was not careful enough to pre-select sessions or eat right!

As an undergrad kind of unsure of where I want to go after graduation, it was frustrating to be hearing all of these great ideas without a classroom to implement them in! When I added the feelings of rejection on top of it, it just made for a miserable li'l Sara.

In retrospect, I am SO grateful I went because regardless of the moods I experienced (which were not all bad! I had an amazing poster session and connected with a lot of energetic people then), my values are still guiding me. I've learned that my core values are my compass, while my moods may blow me every which-way, like the wind.

I still want to teach in some capacity, because that is what I'm passionate about. I'm not sure how or when, but I was able to connect with the strong messages as ISTE that helped me to realize how important helping children is to me.

... so, that was kind of a long-winded way of saying THANK YOU for this post!!!

Sara (The Quest of an Undergraduate Researcher)

JaymeJ said...

If only you could see me nodding my head as I read this. This was my 4th NECC/ISTE conference, the second time I have presented a poster session, and my 5th year serving on a SIG leadership team...yet still feel inadequate, like I am interrupting, being pulled in a million different directions, but always leave ISTE inspired and awe-filled.
Thank you for being a member of my PLN. I look forward to meeting you face to face someday.

Doug said...

Great thoughts Joan! You've written many of the things I have been thinking, as it was my first iste too!

Anthony said...

Thank you for sharing and modeling risk taking and failing in order to learn. Like you, it was also my first ISTE and waited too long. Biggest problem for me was not being able to finding a room in town and having to travel each day from the airport hotels. Still it was a phenomenal, overwhelming conference. I too met people I only knew through twitter and most of the reception was nice. Don't let the others bother you - as you said there a numerous possible reasons why. Nonetheless, you had some amazing experiences and should take that home with you. I am also shy and I committed myself to meeting new people. It worked. Now I'm part of a group planning an EdCamp in Seattle next March - who knew? Again, thanks for sharing, this was very refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Joan, this was my second ISTE & I share many of the same emotions. I am painfully shy and truly lack confidence. In all honesty, it took a lot for me to introduce myself to people. I was so glad when you walked up to me. It meant a great deal.
No matter what we do or where we go we will also feel it could have been better. That's part of life. What we need to do is to rejoice in the opportunity we have been afforded and smile.

Anonymous said...

I love your honesty. Reading the tweets, I thought it would have been great to be at ISTE. In reality I think I might find it overwhelming. Just wanted to say it isn't always arrogance or unfriendliness that makes people respond less than enthusiastically. I know for me, having my blog become quite well known was a surprise. I don't love the spotlight, specially with people I don't know well and when a few people have come up to say hi at local conferences, I wonder if I appeared standoffish too, simply because the idea of being 'recognised' is so foreign to me!!

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thank you all for your incredible comments! I want to emphasize that I did introduce myself to many people and also got the greatest hugs and warmest welcomes from so many, "OH, you're 'Flourishingkids!" It's not that I expected that from everyone; I am referring to the downright, rude behavior of a couple of people who "dismissed" me. My point was not for anyone to feel sorry for me, or even that I am beating myself up for these mistakes. I learned from them! My point is that although I had the best intentions in my mind and heart, I am still a human being with feelings. Our students are similar. They walk into our environments with their hearts open, minds ready, and give us the power to impact them. What we do with that power matters. If you read these comments, you will see so many others who remember the hurtful experiences. Yes, they do recall the positive ones, but unfortunately, we definitely remember the painful ones first.
Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I cannot tell you how much it means to be a part of such a vibrant, sharing community of people.

Engagingedu said...

This is great! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to meeting you next time, too!!!


Angela Watson said...

I feel like I could have written this post! I especially relate to #9 and #10.

One mistake I did NOT make this time was was failing to plan for sightseeing. I made that mistake at my first ed conference ever and missed out on seeing much of San Antonio. When I went to San Fran, I came a day early and skipped out on sessions to see the city, and am convinced that was the best use of my time! I've been to Philly many times so it was not that tempting to me (though I did do a bus tour)...but San Diego? Oh, man, I might have to come TWO days early! :-)

Tracy Watanabe said...

Hi Joan,

This is such a great post! It was such a pleasure to meet you! I had bumped into you on occasion from your blog (as a lurker, but I'll plead newbie), and it was so fun to keep bumping into you throughout the conference... and now even after the conference. Thanks for continuing to help me grow. I appreciate your genuineness!

Kind regards,

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thank you all for the incredible sharing in the comments here. Now I know one of the huge drawbacks to this blogger platform: it doesn't allow me to respond individually to comments.grr!
That being said, it means so much that you not only stop by and read, but that you add to the conversation. I learned so much at ISTE11, still processing and trying out some of the tools, but more than that: I came away affirmed that we have some amazing folks out there in our education world! I appreciate all of you :-)

Candace Hackett Shively said...

I think almost all ISTE first timers feel the same way. I know I did in 2006. But I would go on to say that even those returning for the 6th or 15th time -- and presenting -- are awed by the many minds who are there. Don't let the "in crowd" fool you. They are there to learn, too. And remember that those lucky enough to be at ISTE form a tiny group of leaders among the rest of the educators in the country (and world). Just being there sets you apart, even if no one "knows" you. You found a way to be there, and you will pay it forward.

Your suggestions for what to do next time are dead-on. EdubloggerCon is a marvelous opportunity to see people in a more relaxed and VERY welcoming setting. I happened upon it the very first year and will ALWAYS go back. I hope to meet you there in San Diego!

Submit a proposal for an ISTE poster session. They are a ton of fun and give you great experience meeting all sorts of folks from all over. Practical stuff you are passionate about makes good material for a poster session, and your "voice" will come through in the proposal if it is something you CARE about.

Sheri Edwards said...

Wonderful post. Although I did not attend ISTE11, I have attended other conferences and had the same experiences. I hope this post is part of the intro to next year's ISTE12 -- great advice for attendees and also for presenters to consider.

Ronnie said...

Really enjoyed your post! And glad we could meet up for the Independence Hall tour! I must admit, that is all I got to see of Philly too and wanted to see more for sure.

Hope we can meet up again in San Diego next year!

Shana Ray said...


Thank you so much for this post. Your honesty about your shyness brings me back to the first time I met my (wine industry) twitter friends in real life in 2008. I was shocked that everyone knew my Twitter handle. After that, I made it my own personal goal to meet my Twitter friends in person and actually get to know their real name.

So, thanks again Joan for the awesome blog post, putting yourself out there!! Already looking forward to meeting you again at EdCampSFBay (oh, and ISTE 12).

+Shana Ray (aka @ShanaatDS & @Collaborize)

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Wow! Even more comments flowing in! Thank you all for the feedback. Each time I reflect on the wonderful "fall-out" from this conference I think of another post to write. The conversations, learning, inspiring continue long after the actual face-to-face meetings. It's great to feel so connected to others as passionate and involved as you all are. Thank you :-)

Lisa Koster said...

ISTE12 will be my first conference and I am attending on my own.

The reflections are very helpful!

Unknown said...

I also appreciate your post. This will be my first time to ISTE Conf. and I am very excited. I love San Diego (go a couple of times each year) and was thrilled to see ISTE12 going to be there!
Would love to say hello and meet you if I (or you) get the chance! :)
Your "mistakes" have given me great insight and encouragement to get out there and make connections with as many of the interesting people at ISTE12 as possible!
Thanks again,
Laura Conley

Jan Wells said...

I appreciate your reflections and openness to share with others. Hope to meet you and so many others at ISTE12! :)

Margarita Kalyuzhna said...

Dear Joan! Thank you for your feedback about #ISTE11. Unfortunately, I've read it too late. I am from Ukraine and I was disappointed #ISTE12. Some people speak about cooperate, creativity, etc, but their action isn't the same. My feedback on Ukrainian is here