8 Failures (Other Things I Learned) at ISTE

Yesterday, I stumbled across a great ed. blog post yesterday titled “11 Mistakes I Made at #ISTE11”  from the blog Finding Ways for All Kids to Flourish (great blog by the way). I think it’s very powerful to see teachers/educators/administrators as vulnerable and willing to reflect on mistakes in order to learn. All too often the idea of risk and failure are part of a schools’ values, and we expect our students to put themselves out there. As adults, however, we sometimes forget or fear to do the same, let alone acknowledge them. Anyway, inspired by that post here are 8 more things learned (failed) at ISTE this past week.

8 ) Book early. Registration begins in September even though the conference is at the end of June. Housing through ISTE’s block of rooms at nearby hotels begins in November. This year, when I booked in May, hotels in town were sold out (except the Ritz Carlton – the per diem rate wouldn’t even come close to the rates they wanted) and I had to slog it in from an airport hotel each day. These airport hotels were at capacity, either occupied by ISTE attendees or pilots/flight attendants. In fact, I’m going to see if I can find a hotel in San Diego with a cancelable rate for next year’s conference.

7) Bring as small a computer as possible. For the Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) sessions, lugging a 15 inch or larger laptop with you all day makes the portable device seem less portable. My ipad worked for the remaining two days just fine.

6) Have cash and credit cards. Meals on a flight can only be paid with credit cards. You can only use cash to pay for Philly train fare.

5) Plan your meals – The first full day of the conference when one of the concurrent sessions ended at noon, it seemed like over 10,000 people swarmed out of the convention center at once to find lunch. There were lines everywhere you looked. Decided on a later lunch during the next break – you could eat anywhere.

4) Don’t try and do everything. You can’t!

3) Meet more people. I met some incredible people, but need to be more outgoing and meet even more. Many of those I met were incredibly passionate, resourceful educators so willing to share everything.

2) Attend more informal sessions by vendors. Even though I could barely decide what to attend during some sessions, vendors like Microsoft, Google, Adobe, SMARTboard, etc. were all offering specific sessions in the exhibit hall on how to use their tools for your class/school. The few I caught were great.

1) Don’t go it alone. I was encouraged to ask another from my school to go, but after two said they couldn’t, I stopped asking. It was May, and it was a crazy time to be asking people to extend their school year by attending a conference. Maybe I can go again next year since it’s on the west coast and bring a team. If given the green light, I will plan much earlier.


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