Sunday, July 14, 2013

ISTE 13 - Post 1 - It's All About Relationships

I am passionate about people! Bottom line, life is all about the relationships.  When I was in the classroom, I loved being with my students.  It brought me great joy and happiness to be able to create an environment that was supportive, friendly, and upbeat.  It fired me up every day that I can make someone’s life better because I went to work.

I was passionate about helping them realize that kindness, patience, and acceptance are the keys to working successfully with others.  I loved working with kids who needed a teacher the most; the ones who struggle.  I loved watching their confidence grow week by week .  It fired me up that by believing in them, they learn to believe in themselves.  It ignited a fire in me to craft the best possible lessons so my students can have a learning experience that is incredible and left them wanting to come back the next day.   I loved instilling in them a drive to own their learning and do the best job possible because they want to, not because they have to.  I loved helping them set their own learning goals and then have them prove to me they are learning by showing me evidence of how they reach those goals.   I loved watching them reflect on their learning and revise their work.  

Now I am fired up about collaborating with my colleagues so we can lead and inspire others.  I know that listening and sharing are key components in growing as an educator.  We all have so much to share and so much to learn.  And, like driving, we can continually learn more.  Our craft can always be improved.  Exceptional educators are always learning, connecting, and growing.  In that same cycle of reflection, we learn and grow just like our students.

At ISTE13, The Blogger’s Café became a hub of collaboration, reflection, meeting, sharing, and thinking for me.  It was incredible to connect with so many wonderful people, some people who were part of my Twitter PLN, those who I knew from meeting face to face, and new friends that I just met at the conference. 

Sue Gorman (@sjgorman), Shannon Soger, and I were reunited in the Blogger’s Café after being part of the Apple Academy back in February in California. It was fantastic to see them again and catch up!  As we visited, Sue invited me to attend her session with @msmageria the next day.  That will be part of the next post!   I also reconnected with Jon Samuleson (@ipadsammy), who I had met at a Tweetup in Atlanta!

Next up in the blogger café, the founders of (@kidblogdotorg). Dan Flies and Matt Hardy were a delight to meet.  We have several teachers blogging it up using site, so it was a treat to meet them face to face and share with them some stories from Sharae Gelde’s (@sgeldes) and Laura Swanson’s (@lswanson79) ‘s classrooms back at home in Nebraska.   Sharae and Laura had classes that blogged regularly this year since they had regular access via the iPads and they had people around the world leaving comments for their students on their blogs.  It is nice to share with the founders of kidblog how the platform was instrumental in motivating kids to write, read, share their stories, revise their work, and leave comments for other kids.   

As we were talking, who should walk over but THE CYBRARYMAN!  When my colleague, Brent Catlett (@catlett1) and I started on our Twitter adventure over three years ago, we found ourselves at Jerry Bloomgarten’s (@cybraryman1’s) web page.  We were trying to figure out what all the buzz was about hashtags.  He was the expert that we sought that steered us not only to hashtags, but to chats, people to follow, and tremendous educational resources.  He is so genuine and kind and full of great advice.  It was an honor to meet him and tell him how much we appreciate all he is doing for all of us educators everywhere.  He is our go to person for all things Twitter. 

As I turned around to leave, who should I see, but Kevin Honeycutt (@kevenhoneycutt) seated on a couch in a crowd of people.  Kevin shared an inspirational message to all of us at the NETA (@yourneta) conference in Nebraska last year.  Sometimes people make a difference in your life and they never know it.  I enjoyed the chance to tell him face to face how his message spoke to me, motivated me, and as a result of his keynote,  spurred me to start my own #365 project.

The bloggers café was also a special spot as I met a lot of new people there too! It was fun to ask the question, “What great things are you doing in your district, “ and see the pride well up as educators answered the question and talked with such passion about ways they are doing great things for kids.  Our schools are lucky to have so many educators who are so dedicated and willing to take time in the summer to attend ISTE.  It is invigorating to be surrounded by people who are all wanting to learn, share, and grow and ultimately go back to our schools around the world and make a difference in the classrooms.   

Relationships are the glue that creates the network of minds that share and learn together. Twitter is that network of great minds sharing perspectives on so many topics.  Just as I believe in my students, my PLN believes in me.  It is from that sharing that causes me to have new ideas, be validated, revise my work, and bring my staff and students the very best ME every day to work.  Relationships are the key and the Blogger’s Café at #ISTE13 was the venue to foster relationships and provide fuel for the 2013-2014 journey! 

Written by Ann Feldmann

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