Reflections of a First Timer

No, this wasn’t my first ISTE rodeo, but there was something very unique about this time for me … I presented a poster session. If you would have met me ten years ago the first word that you would probably use to describe me would most likely have been shy, or it would have at least made the top ten. If you met me this week shy probably wouldn’t be on the list, actually I would think that if I called myself shy people might look at me like I was crazy. I’m not really sure what caused this change, what triggered it, when it happened, or whether it has slowly occurred over time. What I do know is that I am so happy that I have gained confidence. Anyway…

Last year at #ISTE13 in San Antonio I decided to drive (so I might actually be a little crazy) in early so that I could attend the pre-conference #HackEd event. One of the sessions that I went to was on Coaching. Having just finished my first year as an Instructional Technology Coach in Park Ridge I had a lot to share. At some point during the discussion we were talking about how to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching and I shared that I would LOVE to know how this was being done in other places because my job was a part of a three year pilot and the school board was going to need data to show that what I was doing was meaningful or I was going to be out on the streets in, at that time, two years. From somewhere in the outskirts of the circle yelled a voice, “Me too!” After the end of the discussion, the one and only, +Melinda Sears came up and introduced herself. We talked about our experiences, our concerns, and even joked about opening our own school in two years time. We ran into each other several times during the conference and continued to stay connected after ISTE was over. I’m not sure when, but we decided to submit a proposal for a poster session together for this years conference about how to be a Tech Coach. (I know what you’re thinking… finally she’s gotten to the point.) Mel and I did several Google Hangouts throughout the year to plan and we worked together to create a Google Site to share with people that came to talk to us.

This past Sunday at #ISTE2014 in Atlanta we “presented” our poster session entitled, “How to be a Tech Coach.” It was such a great experience! For those of you that don’t know how a poster session works, it is a two-hour window of time where participants can come and talk to you about the poster topic. Personally I learn best through discussions and the opportunity to ask questions. I love talking to people and learning from them! As much as I love talking I didn’t realize how much I would be talking in that two-hour window. There were a lot of people (over 200) that stopped by our table and there were some really great conversations. I talked to at least 15 teachers that were moving in to a coaching role starting next school year and even more that had just finished their first year. Not only did I share my experiences from being a tech coach, but I was also able to learn from them and everyone else that stopped by. I wish that we could build up the poster sessions at our state conference to reach this level of awesomeness.

I am so glad that I met Melinda. I am so glad that we did a poster session together. I am so glad that I met a lot of really interesting people during that session. I would highly recommend presenting in a poster session format and will likely try to do it again. All in all it was a huge #eduwin!

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