First and foremost, I want to thank my loving husband for experiencing Chicago and ISTE with me. For two years I’ve wanted the experience. He encouraged me go. “Do it, Marilyn.” We did. My husband lived near Chicago during high school so of course he knew all the history. Riding the train into the city, he talked about the buildings, the early origins of Chicago, and the iconic food. While I spent my days at ISTE, he enjoyed the sites of the city. At night, we ate at restaurants he had pinned, relaxed with coffee, and did some sightseeing.
ISTE is so big that each individual needs to make their experience what they want. ISTE is like the Mall of America. There are so many people, so many sights to see, and only so many hours in the day. But just like shopping, each one of us has our own purpose. Some attendees want to meander and be pulled in on a whim, some want to shop around for the right session, and some want the experience of being there. The beauty is that each of us can make the experience what we want it to be. There’s no “right way” to do ISTE.
There was so much passion at ISTE. At every session I attended, poster board I stopped at, or vendor I talked to, you could feel their passion. As I’m on my own journey to infuse passion projects into my classroom, I noticed that educators at ISTE were following their passions as well. Gamification, social media, emojis, Adobe Spark, Google, and more were some passions that I saw. At the crux of them all was building relationships. Tools and strategies come and go, but the human factor of education will always be there. At the heart of almost every session or interaction at ISTE, was knowing our students so that we can better meet their needs both educationally and socially. Being passionate about students is something we can all support.
Educators at ISTE are full of empathy. With 21,000 estimated participants, this may have been the largest gathering to date. Attendees showed tons of empathy waiting in lines for sessions, shuttles, and of course, the bathroom. With that many people, we had to be understanding. But what an opportunity to talk to new people. Line conversations are great! They’re so organic and real. I liked to ask what they were taking back to their classrooms. Answers would include tools, strategies, or ideas. But the reason was always the students. Educators have big hearts!
I’m a hugger. And boy were there lots of hugs at ISTE. I had quite a few Twitter meetups. They all started with a hug. I did a little research on the power of hugs. Hugs are for comfort in times of need, communicate “I’ve missed you,” and release oxytocin, the body’s happy hormone. I can honestly say, ISTE was a phenomenal 4 day event, and the hugs were by far the best part of it. I’m laughing now thinking of all the hugs. Hugs to presenters, hugs to Uber drivers, hugs to the PLN, and even help desk attendants. To everyone that was part of the hug fest, you are all very special. Your hugs filled me up. 2128 hugs were especially memorable. I want to bottle them up!
Thank you, ISTE, for the amazing experience.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn