In less than a week, I will be heading out the door to attend my 12th NECC/ISTE conference, attending my first in 1993 (pre-Internet days). I am really looking forward to the conference although my experience has changed. This year, I will be involved with the ISTE Independent School Special Interest Group (SIG-IS) leadership which I volunteered for this winter and conducting two 3 hour workshops, one Monday and one on Tuesday.
My goal for ISTE is to maintain a balance between my own learning, connecting with others while living a rounded lifestyle. In order to achieve those goals, I am sharing the 8 tips which I try to follow:
1. Meet new people – It is easy to stay with friends and colleagues who are familiar and comfortable. It is easy to live in the Blogger’s Cafe or other ISTE Playground. However, in order not to stagnate, it is important to meet and have a meaningful conversation (15-20 minutes) with people who you have never met or are on the extreme periphery of your Learning Community.
2. Seek out New Voices- It is also easy to go through the conference program and select either the spotlight sessions or sessions given by other members of your Learning Community. However, also find two to three people who you don’t know, either in the poster or paper sessions. Sit, listen, or converse with them. It is amazing how much this can benefit your learning. Seek a diverse set of voices.
3. Celebrate Connections and Friendships – Yes, it is important to reconnect with those who most of our communication is done virtually, through Twitter, Skype, or other networks. It is important to celebrate those friendships face to face while you have the chance. Take time and acknowledge them.
4. Exercise and Sleep – It is important to keep moving. As John Medina, the opening keynote will support, we are creatures who need to move. Sitting in seven sessions, for over 6 hours, is not what most of us do. We wander and move. So find the time to exercise. Walk to the conference center, rather than take the bus. find a way to walk. In both Washington D.C and Denver, I found a bikes that I could rent for less than $10 per hour. Take a ride, go for a run. Likewise, it is important to get sleep, at least 6 hours. Your body cannot stand the increased stimuli from the ideas, sounds, lights that you will be experiencing.
5. Eat balanced and healthy – Your mother told you to have a variety of colors on your plate, not just fried foods. It is important to eat your fruits and vegetables to maintain yourself at the conference. That is not to say that I am going to skip a Cheesesteak in Philly next week. But find a way to balanced set of meals, which includes breakfast. Even if this is not a normal part of your routine. In D.C., I found a great Asian place just outside the conference center, with a great noodle and tofu dish and in Denver, I found a great salad place (I usually disdain salads) that provided the balance to the heavier foods eaten later.
6. Don’t be afraid to share – even when you may have a contrary idea. Don’t let network celebrity get in your way and keep you quiet. You have great insights to share and ideas to test and build. That is why you are going to ISTE in the first place, right? This one is I really have to work on. I tend to be be quieter and shy in larger conferences. Don’t be shy and afraid to ask.
7. Look to the periphery – on the vendor floor or in one of the cafes or playgrounds, look to the periphery. This is where I find the best new ideas, products, and people.
8. Stay true to yourself
I look forward to the ISTE experience. Maybe, we can connect.
Vinnie Vrotny, Director of Academic Technology
The North Shore Country Day School
PLP Dublin Dallas
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