I See Brilliant People – #ISTE2016 #iplza16

During the last two weeks, I had the privilegeĀ of traveling to Austin, Texas for iPadpalooza and then to Denver, Colorado for ISTE. I’ve been trying to put together a post that gives due justice to both learning experiences and more importantly the people I had the honor of being with. I think I’ve been over thinking it though. šŸ™‚

First, let me give props to Carl Hooker. Carl invited me to be a featured speaker at iPadpalooza and it was already a conference I had been wanting to get to for some time. Everything about the conference was top-notch. Carl and his team thought of everything. It was well-organized, had both formal and informal learning experiences that were great , and they made sure there was something for everyone. I highly encourage anyone that has never been to make plans to head to Austin in 2017.

I went straight from Austin to Denver because I was attending (and presenting at) ISTE. I hardly ever go to conferences back to back like that so I made sure to build in a day in between the two conferences that was strictly for downtime (and to do laundry – Texas is hot y’all). ISTE is a behemoth of a conference; that’s no secret. If you go to ISTE as part of a team from your school or district, it’s really easy to do the “divide and conquer” thing to get a wide variety of learning experiences whether that be the poster sessions (which were awesome this year), the BYOD workshops, the concurrent sessions, and even in the exhibit hall. ISTE is a conference that everyone interested in edtech should experience at least once. If your school or district has the funds to take an entire team that’s even better.

After these conferences were over, the one predominant thought I had from all of it was, “Wow, I know some really brilliant people.”. Seriously, I brilliant peoplekeep thinking this over and over and how fortunate I am to have these people not only as professional colleagues, but I get to call many of them friends too. Such a great byproduct of networking with people online, then face to face or vice versa.

To sum it all up, I just want to express my sincere thanks. Thank you for making me a part of your network. Thank you to Carl Hooker, Don Goble, Monica Burns, April Requard, Cathy Hunt, Amy Burvall, Felix and Judy Jacomino, Wes and Shelly Fryer, Austin Kleon, Kerry Gallagher, Clara Galan, Derek McCoy, Audrey Harrison, Beth Still, Adam Bellow, all my peeps at EdTechTeam, and many many others. I appreciate the kind words and congrats about my career move. I hope I can do as good of a job of sharing that so many of you do weekly and sometimes daily. I admire all of you! I appreciate your brilliance and allowing me to learn from it.

Striking Out is Good

My son Eli had a baseball tournament this past weekend. The kid loves baseball so much. He’s 9, yet he already has created this amazing capacity of baseball information for himself. It’s safe to say that Eli has a working knowledge of every team in Major League Baseball. His passion for playing baseball is evidentĀ because of not only how hard he practices, but also how hard he is on himself when he doesn’t perform as well as he thinks he should; particularly when he’s up to bat and strikes out.

One particular instance of this over the weekend really struck me. Eli was up to bat, and struck out. As he turned to return back to the dugout, Eli lowered his helmet down over his eyes as the tears started to flow. It’s not the first time that has happened so I did what any supportive dad would do in this situation and I ran out on the field and I scooped him up and hugged him. Just kidding, I didn’t really do that (but I wanted to). šŸ™‚

I did, however, make sure Eli could hear me and I told him he’s awesome and he’ll get it next time. What happened next though I wasn’t expecting:

Eli being consoled by his teammates.

I love everything about this picture. I mean, if you’re going to strike out, at least you have a great team that’s there for you even when you don’t perform like you thought you should. Would I have loved to see Eli blast that ball? Of course I would have. I like to thinkĀ in this instance Eli learned something that a home run wouldn’t have taught him. That’s my hope as I look at this picture over and over and smile.

Today is the last day of school for my kids. They had a great year; they loved their teachers, and they love their school. Ā So, naturally I had to think about how this all relates to education. šŸ™‚

WTF Moments

No, WTF doesn’t mean what you think it means. We need to have a Willingness To Fail. Our students need that transparency from us, teachers need that transparency from leadership, and it needs to be the norm. It needs to be accepted and embraced that failure is going to happen and not have it seen as an end point, but a jumping off point. Think of where it’s going to go from here rather than let it keep you from going anywhere at all.

Infectious Engagement

I think it’s safe to say we all want our students to be excited about going to school. My son loves school but he’s not as excited about it as he is about baseball. He certainly doesn’t get as upset about when he doesn’t perform well at school compared to striking out in a baseball game. I think if we want our students to be as excited/passionate about school as they are about things outside of school, they need to see us just as excited about learning. Our students need to know about that edcamp, Google Summit, or other learning experience that got us fired up. They need to know what you’re doing to be a better teacher and keep moving yourself forward because they’re the ultimate reason we’re doing it. It means creating a culture and practice of being infectious in our schools.

Teams Are Everything

Knowing you have a great team that is going to support you, success or not,Ā is a comfort that we need as professionals and our students need it in our classrooms too. The need for team support isn’t limited to athletics; students need to feel what good collaboration, team work, and camaraderie looks like and feels like as it relates to learning too. Again, students need to see this modeled at all levels in a district or school. We are always better together than we are apart.

Striking out isn’t always bad. It can give us some important reminders of how to be better learners and how to be better people.






Keep Connecting Those Dots

For a long time, my favorite part of my Twitter profile is the line “I connect dots”. What does that mean? For me, it’s the best thing about being connected to a PLN, and learning from loads of brilliant people any time I want. You will learn which people to go to for help or to learn more about specific topics. I’ve never claimed to know everything, and I don’t want to try. I’m also not afraid to tell someone “I don’t know” when someone asks me in person or onlineĀ about a topic I don’t have the answer to. However, I almost always make sure to follow that up with “But you should talk to _____.” or “I’m happy to help you find the answer.”. That’s what connecting dots is all about; if you can’t give them an answer, then get them to the person that can. Maybe this is a culture thing that teachers, leaders, and professional development providers need to embrace more; rather thanĀ seeingĀ it as a negative thing when we have to say “I don’t know”. Sometimes when we don’t know, it marks the start of a great learning experience.

The bottom line is getting teachers just what they need so they can give their students the learning experiences they need. Any new topic I’m learning about or whichever way I’m trying to advance myself professionally is about students at the end of the day. If it’s helping a teacher then it’s helping kids, which is why we all do what we do. We’re educators because we love to learn and we love making learning better for our students.Ā When we get some kind of special recognition for it is it nice?Ā Of course it is. It’s exciting and generally amazing to me that someone thought I was deserving. We all know that’s not why we’re in education though. I also know I’m going to keep connecting dots for others; virtual pats on the back or not.