Saturday, July 5, 2014

Today I Cried #ISTE2014

It has happened again. ISTE came. ISTE went. A world apart from where I was a year ago, yet I still find myself.... sad. Crying even. Sad for the friends I miss. Sad for the opportunities that won't present again for a year. Sad. Sad at the awkwardness that hung over the conference that I can't quite figure out.
"Sad - feeling or showing sorrow; unhappy"
That's just CRAZY! I just returned from the largest edtech gathering in the world and shared memories with the brightest minds bar none. Shouldn't I be elated? Giddy? Well yeah. I should. Instead, I feel my introverted self taking over. No, really. I am introverted. The high that I experience when I'm around my friends and colleagues always crashes. ALWAYS. After a week with people that literally warm my soul, I need to recharge with me. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to grow... and apparently write.

The one nagging aura hanging over me is the "off" of ISTE this year. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the space that felt disconnected or simply the change to Eastern time for a week but something was just... off. I felt it in the conference center. I felt it at the after parties. It was a prevalent feeling that has no name.

Don't get me wrong; by all accounts ISTE was a raving success. So very many people smiled, laughed, loved, and learned so much last week. It literally brought joy to my soul to find first time attendees gushing with all they were learning. I met a young lady at the Welcome Lounge early Friday morning who had only picked up her badge and was already feeling overwhelmed. In the midst of 16,000+ attendees, I strangely kept running into her. Each time, I stopped and asked her how she was doing. Post Friday, she was smiling, laughing, and collecting ribbons. When I last saw her on the vendor floor, she was elated that she had just won a Chromebook. Yay! On the final day of the conference, I passed her in the hall by the Blogger's Lounge. That time, I didn't stop her. I quietly fell in behind her and the couple of friends she was with and I listened. I heard the happiness in her voice that was a complete 180 from when I first met her Friday morning. She gushed about her experience and everything she had experienced. She was obviously oblivious to whatever this "thing" was that I had felt all week. And for her, I was happy.

While many of my friends expressed the same feeling of "off" that I had, when I step back from them and think back, I realized that we were thankfully in the minority. SO VERY MANY educators escaped that feeling. Many learned, laughed, loved. Many have returned home excited about next year, anxious to bring something new to their students. I suppose it just goes to show how very individualized each experience is.

For me, #ISTE2014 created some very special memories. Many are private between myself and one or two other people. Those will forever remain in that moment. I leave those with #noRegrets. Others were a year or more in the making as I met new connections and made time to catch up with colleagues I see only once a year. The vendor floor held great promise in a few spots and the poster sessions of course impressed. Next year, I will return for ISTE2015 and one of my most favorite cities. There I hope to make new memories and new connections. And whatever this "off" is, may it stay in Atlanta.


  1. This conference didn't felt "off" for me, but in many ways it felt different this year. It was like a sporting event with all the vibes of going before the final game of the season. I could feel the excitement in the air, but there were definitely too many people for the spaces available. The organization seemed a bit off in my opinion. The highlight for me was that I got to meet many teachers in my PLN whom I had never met in person before. This was a treat and the best part of attending this year. I like to talk and listen to the stories other people have to tell and to that end I was able to interview many thought-provoking teachers to be featured on my YouTube channel. It was a pleasure meeting you in person this year and I look forward to catching up with you in Philadelphia next year.

  2. This was my seventh ISTE and something definitely felt off to me as well. That is not to say that it wasn't a great experience because it was. Since I have a new position I approached the conference from a different perspective than I have in previous years. The sessions that I attended were wonderful and I had great people to room with. I was able to connect with some people that I have been trying to touch base with for years. But something was hanging over all of this awesomeness and I just can't put my finger on it. It is not a reflection on the conference but rather a reflection of the vibe from many of the people I was with. I'm ready to shake it off and get ready for the next time I see you (and everyone) again! Ice, Ice Baby? :)