I am not going to say I am perfect at building relationships with people or that I am a guru with it. I do think; however, I am very understanding of how they need to be formed when working with others especially based on my own experiences. Many of the Fulton County Schools' Vanguardians (check out #fcsvanguard on Twitter) came from a variety of schools from all over our extremely large, both geographically and population wise, district. Many of us did not know each other. Over the past couple of days, it is amazing to see how many people have began to grow and learn about each other, rather we teach in Fairburn or in Johns Creek. That goes back to a point I made yesterday and today in two global connected educators sessions...Being a global connected educator does not mean being a teacher in the United States and connecting with a teacher in China; it means being connected to someone else in this world. The world is even your own backyard. Think about what I said a moment ago. Teachers in my district did not know who one another were or anything about a particular school or even about the students they serve. Making the connections they made this week, I have seen collaboration start to take place on buses, in hotel lobbies, in walking down a sidewalk, and relationships form. And I know soon, they are going to flourish.
Continuing on with this journey called ISTE 2015. This year I can say I learned from my experience last year with attending my first ISTE Conference. I can say today I did not get overwhelmed. Did I spend every moment of each day seeking out the most "brilliant" sessions...No. Yes I attended many sessions (and some can do a better job with the description of their sessions), but being straightforward, I will tell anyone the best place to be is not necessarily at a paid workshop (which still I don't understand why is it that certain ones are not included in registration costs) or sessions and definitely in not the shark tank known as the vendor hall, but the Blogger's Cafe. Last year and this year, I gained more knowledge from various people in the Blogger's Cafe (even though mine this year were much more meaningful than last) than sessions. From teachers, assistant principals, principals, directors, and even superintendents; there wasn't a place of hierarchy. I did not feel that because I am 50 and you are 25, I am better than you. Everyone was able to learn more about each other and learn based on experiences. I haven't shared this really with anyone; however, I kept hearing about how awesome Minecraft was in the classroom, yet I was very fearful of implementing it and truthfully learning it myself (which I am going to have to go outside my comfort zone and it is still going to be somewhat nerve racking). Sitting in that space and having a five to ten minute conversation on that has truly been inspiring and I got a better understanding of how to work that particular tool.
I could go on and another post will be coming soon; but for now I am going to close. I know everyone does not have the same faith I have. Some people do not even believe in God and I truly respect that (especially when you can respect my beliefs). I do believe God sets up things for divine purpose and everything happens for a reason. I must say I need to thank God and my school district. They have covered my cost of coming to the conference, food, and more importantly, paying to help develop others and myself to become better in our professions and also as people. I once heard in a song the words, "I need you, you need me... you are important to me, I need you to survive." This is how I would best describe my experience of ISTE 2015. Please know more is coming soon about more aspects of the conference experience.