Sunday, June 26, 2011

Heading to ISTE 2011

I have gotten increasingly anxious about heading to the ISTE 2011 conference in Philadelphia. I've seen discussion that the attendance is expected to be around 18,000. 18,000!!! I am an introvert, so the thought of trying to finding respite when sharing a hotel room is stressful! I'm also nervous about being out of my element. I love technology and am more comfortable with it than many of my colleagues, but I
am far from a techie. I wonder how far over my head the sessions will be. From the overwhelming stack of mail I've gotten as a conference registrant, I'll be in the deep end! (The stack of postcards has to be 8 inches tall, all inviting me to visit their booths for demos and freebies. I have no idea what most of them are selling.) Then there's leaving my boys for 4 days. My 4 year old is now old enough to clearly express his distress and sadness over my leaving. My 15 year old will take this opportunity to get out of his summer assignments. My husband has his hands full for the next 4 days! (Of course, he's up to the challenge - even if he isn't excited about it.) Finally, I always get stressed about packing. I never have quite the right size suitcase, and I'm certain I will forget something essential - don't know I ever have, but I worry about it anyway.

So today is the day! My 4 year old slept later than usual. Rather than go ahead and hurry off, I stayed to cuddle with him. He banged on the window as I was getting my car. I looked up see him sign, "I love you" with a very sad look on his face. Next, I encountered an accident about 10 cars in front of me. Luckily, others had stopped to render aide and the scene didn't look like I needed to contribute. Then the parking lot shuttle bus drove right past me as I was unloading my stuff. As I walked to the end of the row, another drove right past to the next row. I finally caught it about half way down the aisle. When I finally got in the airport to check my bag, it was 40 minutes before the flight. Whew, I thought I would make it! Nope! Continental implemented a new rule recently. Bags must be checked 45 minutes before flight time - no exceptions. My bag was too big to carry on. As I write this, I'm on the standby list for the next flight - more than 2 hours after mine. Oh, and I'm paying for wifi access as my Clear hotspot can't get a signal anywhere in the terminal.

It appears I've been worrying about the wrong things!

Luckly, I wasn't in the accident on the freeway. I didn't fall down on the people glide, like the older woman who was traveling with her husband. And I didn't run down the terminal with my grandson to find they had just closed the airplane door. I'm also not traveling with a large group or a very small child. I'm not trying to get on a plane to see a sick relative, either.

I'm going to an enormous conference where I'm going to have the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can about transforming instruction. It's been years since I've had this opportunity to grow. I can meet new people, or choose to be anonymous in the crowd. I can commune with adults who care as much as I do about the future of education and shifting our field to meet students' needs.

I have the opportunity to gain the skills to walk instead of just talk. I firmly believe gifted education has slipped and is missing an enormous opportunity. Gifted education has always been at the forefront, leading the innovation in education. We've introduced and perfected much of what is considered good education for all students today. We aren't there now! The new frontier is in technology integration. It's about shifting how we teach using the plethora of digital tools available to us. It's about taking all that gifted ed has perfected, viewing it through a new digital lens, and going global with it. The technology educators are leading this innovation. I want gifted ed to be there with them, partners in meeting students' needs. I can't wait to pair what they have to teach me with what I know about gifted children.

Later than expected, but with less trepidation -
ISTE 2011, here I come!