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The ISTE Rollercoaster

As I wrote the title, The ISTE Rollercoaster, I laughed because it's true. There are so many emotions, excitement, and learning going on that it often takes a few days or weeks to process everything that you experienced. Your emotions are high then low in a brief second. You feel dizzy from going nonstop. You also feel butterflies in your stomach and you smile so big from the excitement of connecting and learning from others.

To share and process my experience, I thought I would talk through this roller coaster.

Anticipation - Riding up the first big hill

It was a feeling of excitement when I found out I was going to ISTE. I had heard from many of my friends about last year at ISTE and the ideas and inspiration they received. I anticipated my roommate, the hotel, the long days of learning, dinners we would have, sights to visit, sessions to attend, and connecting with other educators. I was so pumped for this experience! But then I quickly got a reality check at the airport.

Reality - Top of the biggest and first hill. The loops and fast curves are in sight.

As I arrived to my gate, I learned of not 1, but 3 delays due to weather. When I arrived in Atlanta, which was way out of the way from Philadelphia, I had another delay due to weather. I ended up arriving 2 hours later than planned, and was very short on sleep. This was only the beginning of being tired.

As I entered the convention center the next morning, I quickly checked my ISTE app to see where I needed to go, when I could eat lunch, and if any of my friends would be near to hangout. I got lost a handful of times walking from building to building not realizing the convention center was so huge! I arrived a few minutes late to each of my sessions, and would quickly find a seat and grab my notebook. These same events happened each day. Quickly walking from session to session, overloading my brian with information, saving resources shared, running into colleagues as we ran to our next session.

Although this was an amazing experience, it was a blur. A blur of fun, excitement, joy, passion, and the love of learning. You can tell that every person at ISTE was there to share their story and be inspired by others. It was encouraging to see thousands of educators all in one space striving to be better.

As the days went on, sleep deprivation set in. Not only from a tight jammed-packed schedule, but from connecting with other educators you don't normally get the chance to see outside of school, and talking with my roommate until the early morning hours. This was one of my favorite parts. Connecting with others and spending quality time together. This is when the most learning happens for me. Hearing other's takeaways, sessions they attended, collaborating, and meeting authors and family. Other people inspire me to be better. Simple as that. We need more time to connect throughout our days. My mission is to spend more time connecting this year, and less time getting my to-do list checked off.

Aftermath - Last quick turn before the end

As I headed home, I was sad to be leaving such an inspirational place, but also excited to process through my learning. I was physically and mentally exhausted. My brain couldn't function without my mind racing about everything I learned. The aftermath left me excited to start the school year. Hopeful to continue connecting with like-minded educators locally and globally. Inspired to continue empowering my students and others, and encouraged to keep sharing my story.


I think back to a blog post I wrote about how important connecting with others is. If you want, you can read it here. We all need connection. We feel invigorated and alive when we connect with others.

I was able to connect with a handful of teachers I worked with the last 4 years. I was able to learn more about them, their families, their takeaways from ISTE, and just enjoy each other. I was able to connect with future colleagues that I will be teaching with at my new school. I was able to learn more about them and what they're passionate about. I connected with my cousin, Tisha Richmond, (Twitter @tishrich) who lives in Oregon. She recently wrote an amazing book called Make Learning Magical. I can't put it down! We haven't been able to sit and talk about our careers since I met her years ago. I quickly knew we were more similar than I thought as I learned about our similar passions and love for learning and sharing.

This time to connect fueled my soul. I'm thankful to be able to bounce off ideas, share, and learn from others. Also, to be able to get to know them on a more personal level. In order to work well with people, we need to spend time with them, invest in them, and know them well.

Actions Steps - Coasting in to the finish

As this roller coaster is slowing down to a stop, below are my actions steps for the upcoming school year.

1. Continue sharing my story by interviewing my favorite rockstar teachers on my podcast, 'The Stories of How'.

2. Makerspace: tie in building time to my read alouds. Quick 5-10 minute challenges that get my students up moving and making.

3. Being more mindful. I don't need to announce that I am doing a mindfulness lesson. I can incorporate these into my days and lessons.

Presences *start here*

Embody empathy

Apply curiosity

Reflect and transfer

Start each day by using my own pictures/words in storytelling and connect with my students.

4. Gamifying my classroom. This is not adding video games to the classroom. Did you think that? I did!! It is using elements of games to engage students. Think about your favorite games: Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Minecraft, Chutes and Ladders, War, Gin, etc. What is it about those games that intrigues you? Bring those fun elements into your game to engage your students.

Check out Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond and Explore like a Pirate by Michael Matera to learn more about gamification.

5. Use AR/VR to enhance my students learning. AR/VR is on the rise, and as the world and our learners are changing, I need to continue to learn what is new and interesting to my students.

I want to use the app Nearpod to give my students live and student-paced lessons. This could be a great tool for substitutes. Students can also create lessons. I also want to try Round Me. Through this app my students can create a virtual tour of our new school and share it out to the community and families!

6. Do you know about the apple app Clips? It is similar to iMovie, but way easier for my kindergartners. I want to use it for documentation of my own learning and my student's learning. They can record videos/take pics and annotate on them.

7. Utilize Alexa in my classroom. I heard someone say to use it to try and calm students down. I thought this idea was genius and helpful. Alexa is a neutral and calming "person". Maybe it could work? I also want to use it to listen to music as we go throughout our day.

8. Have you heard of Kevin Honeycutt? I was lucky to walk past his playground session, and was in awe for an hour! His ability to tell a story is so intriguing! It reminds me how powerful stories are! Below are some of my favorite quotes from his session.

"Your biggest weakness is your biggest strength waiting to be told,"

"No one can compete with you being you."

"Destroyers don't build."

"Protect your student's weirdness!"

"Don't take their win away from them!"

9. Follow and participate in #pbl chats.

10. Before a project launches, or as a provocation, make a movie or promotional video to make the lesson/project exciting and BIG!

If you attended ISTE, what did you learn and takeaway? I would love to connect and debrief together. I also know I missed many sessions, as there were too many amazing ones to choose from!

If you weren't able to attend ISTE, what do you want to know more about? I would love to share some of my resources from my trip.

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