The Newbie @ISTE


This post may be a little late, but it took me some time to reflect and think about my experiences at ISTE this past week. Here's what I have to say...

I'm a newbie. I'll admit that. I thought I was into edtech the past couple of years, but honestly...I don't think I realized how far my drive and passion towards edtech would take me. I've been reflecting here and there over the past couple of days trying to narrow down and focus on what I learned over the past week. What was my take away? It's hard to think of a take away since everything is so new and overwhelming to me. I am a year out of the teacher education program and on the cusp of my teaching career. I feel like the world of edtech has exploded into my life and left me with a whirling mind and tones of questions...

I believe that these questions are what drive our passion towards edtech. I went to ISTE hyped up and excited about the vendors. 4 football fields of edtech...seriously? What techie enthusiast wouldn't dream of seeing this sight in person? Well, it was definitely a sight to see. Overwhelming actually. Walking into the vendor area was like nothing I had seen before at a conference. Everything from spinning signs, the ticking sound of a prize wheel, and the hum of edtech company pitches here and there. It was awesome. I made my rounds, talked to some companies, filled up my swag bag, and left.

So what did I learn? Did I learn anything? I found myself questioning this vendor floor and how I could apply everything I was taking in. I am a new teacher. Unfortunately, I am a new teacher without my own classroom. I would love more than anything to say to companies, "yes, I can use your product in September!" To be honest, it was a bit of a downer to think that everything I was learning about was only going to be taken at surface value until I could actually dig in and apply what I had learned in a classroom.

I thought this until I finally started questioning and reflecting with new people. Honestly, I think at conferences as big as ISTE, you can forget to leave the vendor area and actually go out and meet the teachers and intellectuals behind the application of these edtech tools. These are the people questioning the status quo and sparking the change in schools.

While at ISTE, I had the pleasure of really getting to know a leader in the field of edtech, Zoe Branigan-Pipe. We were sitting in the Blogger's Cafe and started to really get into a great conversation about pedagogy, building relationships with students, and inquiry. I learned so much about not focusing on all of these tools surrounding us and instead focusing on our own skills and pedagogy as a teacher. I reflected a lot with Zoe and started to realize that I should not be as overwhelmed with all of the edtech in the vendor area. I discovered that edtech companies need to be around to help solve problems and meet certain needs in our lives. However, we cannot force ourselves as teachers to use these tools just because they exist. I believe teachers need to take a step back from what they see at ISTE and keep these tools and companies in mind. When the need arises, it should not be too difficult to find the edtech that will best suit your pedagogical approaches.

Overall, I am simply trying to work my own mind around what I really took from ISTE. I think the biggest realization I had was to take a step back from the spinning signs, prize wheels, and pitches to sit down and meet someone new. You never know where the conversation will lead you...

Zoe and I @ISTE Blogger's Cafe :)