The Introverts Guide To ISTE Helping 1st timers prepare for a great learning experience

First, I need to acknowledge from the beginning, rather you believe it or not, I used to be an Introverted Educator until ISTE 2015! After that experience, I began to embrace the possibilities of becoming a connected educator! With that being said, let me share with you my some of my survival tips for attending the largest EdTech conference where the average attendance is around 15,000 educators from around the world.

Graph from ISTE Demographics page at ISTE.org

GETTING BEYOND THE SOCIAL EXPECTATIONS

The first thing is getting over the fact that a ton of people are at the conference, which means that there is an unspoken expectation to socialize. The easiest way to conquer that part of the introvert personality is to volunteer. At ISTE 2013 in San Antonio I volunteered to gain a back stage look at what ISTE was supposed to be all about. However, as a volunteer, I was able to get over talking to others by having the answers to the many questions that other attendees had, similar to my questions at my first experience in 2012. I gained confidence in meeting others because we were all volunteering for the same reasons.

The other way to get beyond the socialization expectation is to get involved with a ISTE Commuity based on your educational passions. Each group has a meetup at some point during the conference and also get together in the PLN spaces set up throughout the convention center. When you get there, keep in mind that it is OK to lurk until you find your conversation niche. Then go for it.

Other options to get beyond the socialization expecation are attending the First-Timer Booth during the Networking Fair, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. There is also the Welcome Celebration from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Here you will get to network with other 1st timers or Introvert educators while enjoying small bites and beverages. Then there are the Morning Meet-ups where attendees get an opportunity to talk about what sessions they’re going to and hear about the opportunities of the day. This event is held at the Member Lounge from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m daily.

WHAT ABOUT SESSIONS?

Attend Session Based on your passions. Now the catalog is already overwhelming, but is very well organized. So map out your plan early and try to make it as diverse as possible. Look for different delivery methods on the same topic to help you find your own platform. Use the ISTE app to create your schedule each day. However, take the opportunity to tweak your plan daily based on what you have already seen. Sometimes, the sessions cover much more than advertise and may eliminate the need to attend a session you planned on for the next day.

Hangout at the playground, poster sessions and the Blogger’s cafe in between sessions. This provides a chance to interact with ideas, tools, and other attendees around a common passion. Usually, the demonstrations provides answers to questions that you may have had or simply encourage you to ask. This is a great way to connect as well.

If you are attending with a team, divide and conquer if you can and use a shared note taking platform like OneNote, Google Hyper Docs, Padlet, etc. This helps you be everywhere at once.

ADD ONS AND CLOTHING

Edtech introverts have a tendency to be gadget collectors. But what you carry in your backpack is essential to looking like a pro. Trust me, you will not need your laptop, ipad, phone, camera, chromebook and your drone for ISTE. First of all, you want to pack as lightly as possible because of the amount of walking you’ll do. Secondly, the backpack needs to be free to hold the t-shirts and swag you get from sessions and the expo floor that I typically use as give-aways in future training sessions. So, make sure you take a device that you can take notes on, along with the charger. Your phone for communication purposes and maybe a back up battery or portable charger.

Dress comfortably as well including good walking shoes and potentially a jacket. Although it is going to be hot in San Antonio, the convention center is usually freezing. You can adjust after the first day. Also, consider bringing your own water or water bottle and snacks. The onsite food can be rather expensive

TAKE A TIMEOUT

Take some time to get by yourself and write, record or reflect. There is so much to take in but you need some time to digest it all. Schedule some time alone to prevent information overload. Don’t be afraid of missing out on something; that is inevitable. So take care of yourself first and make the other moments matter. Naps are always good!

YOUR VOICE MATTERS

Lastly, Share out what you have learned. No matter how small or large the idea is, put your thoughts, concerns, questions and ideas out for others to add to. Get connected on Twitter or Voxer or whatever platform you are comfortable with and see what others say. When you see others adding on to the conversation, or answering the questions, or affirming their own concerns and beliefs, the ISTE experience is much more rewarding.

Then you will find yourself wanting to learn more and attend more and share more. That’s how you begin to Win Others Over.

Created By
Brian Romero Smith Sr.
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Created with images by cogdogblog - "Life is Sharing" • C!... - "Share"

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