Feeling Blue about Being #isteless

This is a tough week for me. 

Not only is it the last week of the school year at the Salem Middle School—an exhausting time for any teacher—but I’m missing the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.

Now don’t get me wrong:  I wouldn’t trade the chance to say goodbye to my kids in for ANYTHING.

I’ve got a remarkable bunch this year that I’m going to miss times ten, and if missing ISTE means spending a few more days with a group that’s won my heart, so be it. 

In fact, if I were completely honest, it’s not even ISTE that I’m sad about missing. 

Sure, there’s bound to be some great sessions that would have taught me a little something new about learning in today’s world.  I definitely would have picked up a strategy or two on my three-day intellectual sojourn to Philly.

What I’m really sad about is the people I’m missing during my #isteless adventures.

You see, darn near all of the most influential minds in my PLN are at ISTE.  People like George Courous and Patrick Larkin are there—hanging out with Lyn Hilts and Meredith Stewarts.

Scott McLeods are there.  Eric Sheningers are there.  Chris Lehmanns are there.  Chad Sansings are there.

And while those names might not mean a whole lot to you, they are the kinds of people who have impacted my thinking time-and-time again in the digital spaces that we share.

That’s the beauty of social media spaces, isn’t it?

Simple tools like Blogs and Twitter and U-Stream and Elluminate and Ning have made it possible to learn from really bright people who live a world away.  

#itsafactjack

More importantly, simple tools like blogs and Twitter and U-Stream and Elluminate and Ning have made it possible to feel a real connection—an intellectual kinship, even—with people that I may never meet in real life.  

I care about the Georges, Patricks and Lyns in my learning network because they’ve shared what they know with me.  They’ve given freely of themselves and made their practices and their philosophies transparent. 

They’ve given me the courage to try things I would never have considered.  They’ve introduced me to peers that I would never have been introduced to.  They’ve asked questions that I would never have thought to ask. 

More importantly, they’ve pushed back against my own thinking—serving as the professional sounding board that I can’t always find in my own community. 

ISTE would have been a chance to cement those relationships.  To meet face-to-face.  To have an extended conversation in a real physical space. 

To add a touch of personal to my learning network.

#nuts 

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Related Radical Reads:

The Importance of a PLN

Technology Facilitates Connections

Lathered Brilliance and Superman Underoos

7 comments

  1. Lyn Hilt

    Bill,
    We missed you too!! This was my first real ISTE and I was a tad overwhelmed. I had the chance to interact with so many in my network, yet left feeling as though there wasn’t enough time to talk to and meet everyone. I’m grateful for the opportunity to interact with you and others around the world through social media. I appreciate how you push my thinking and make me want to be a better administrator. For those that don’t experience these kinds of connections, it’s really hard for them to understand. How you can walk up to someone you’ve never met in person before, yet welcome them to ISTE with a hug, then continue right into a conversation about teaching and learning. Hope to see you at Educon. 🙂

  2. Bill Ferriter

    Hey George,
    No joke: The conversations are what I thrive on.
    Or is it just knowing that there are other folks asking the same kinds of provocative questions that I’m asking?
    There’s a certain validation in my PLN that I don’t always feel in my own settings.
    Some call that the echo-chamber. I call that intellectual support.
    #digitalcourage
    Rock right on,
    Bill

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Jeremy,
    Thanks a ton for the kind words—and I’d love to follow you back in Twitter! @ me, huh? That way I can be sure that you’re in my stream.
    I’ve worked really hard to keep my own stream small because I can’t keep up with the conversation otherwise—-but anytime I can connect with people who are genuinely interested in my thinking, I’m way down with that.
    And think about going to Educon next year. Same kind of crowd, but much smaller event.
    Plus, because it’s in January there’s a much better chance that I’ll actually be there!
    ISTE always falls in the last week of my school year.
    Rock on,
    Bill

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Derek,
    I totally wish I could go to ISTE next year and present, but I’m probably going to be in the last week of school again!
    It seems to always fall at the same time as the end of my school year.
    Why don’t you think about coming to Educon next year—It’s in January in Philly. Smaller crowd, but same kinds of intellectually engaging conversations.
    Someday we’ve got to meet!
    Bill

  5. Gcouros

    First of all, thanks for the above comment Derek 🙂 The pleasure was all mine when you came out!
    Secondly, it wasn’t the same without you Bill! Definitely missed you out there, but you are right, the people we have connected with have all pushed each other to be better. I kind of liken it to “collaborative competition”; we all work together so that we can also push each other to be better. The sessions at ISTE were okay, but I LOVED connecting with people. It is too bad that in schools we often downplay this meaningful connection with our students when it is the most important thing we have.
    As much as you were missed, I know we will cross paths many times my friend.
    Have a great last day with the kids and wish them a great summer from Canadian George!

  6. Hatcherelli.wordpress.com

    Bill,
    You have summed up my thoughts in your post. I know many people who have gone to ISTE and from the sounds of things, they are having a magnificent time…learning and laughing. It would be great to be there, hanging out with some of the people that we connect with through Twitter and blogs.
    I recently had the opportunity to visit George Couros at his school in Stony Plain, AB and that was an awesome morning. It had such an impact that I wrote a post about it. http://goo.gl/nsZUt I can’t imagine going to a conference with all of my PLN mates…that would be HUGE!
    OK, here’s the plan…let’s put in a bid to present at ISTE next year in San Diego.

  7. Jeremyinscho

    I can completely empathize with you, Bill. A whole new world of professional development opened up a few months ago when I discovered the power of Twitter to build a PLN. Until then I had never heard of ISTE and now I’m planning to do all I can to get there next year. I hope to see you there and shake your hand because you can add yourself to the list with those above who’ve completely changed my perspective on teaching.