I don't consider myself to be a "techy" person. In fact, I prefer a pen and a journal to any digital device. My colleagues often laugh when I pull out my sketch book and colored pens to begin brainstorming a new project. And I prefer the paper sticky notes to the coded ones.
Despite all of my Luddite tendencies, I still enjoy learning about new technology, and I especially like attending educational technology conferences like ISTE which is where I was last week in Chicago. But it's not for the reasons you may think. Sure I like hearing about new trends in tech and finding out what teachers all over the world are doing in their classrooms to make learning experiences more engaging. The reason, however, I have come to love these conferences, is because of the people.
Over the past couple of years, I have built an incredible network of colleagues and friends from all over the globe. I have learned from them and with them not about the tools of technology but through their passion for teaching. They helped me, whether they knew it or not, to create this website and become a consultant. I continue to be amazed that people who I meet over Twitter have quickly become friends and that these friends have introduced me to new friends. It's such an amazing thing to be in a space with over 24,000 amazing educators and connect with the people who I have only communicated with online.
Not only did I leave the ISTE conference inspired to continue the hard work ahead, but I left with new friends who, even though I may have only spent minutes with them, will become partners in helping to make the world a brighter and more joyful place.
While technology can be isolating and anonymous, I am encouraged by the openness and support of this global education community. As Monica Burns would promote tasks before apps, I believe in people before programs.
If you haven't already, I encourage you to connect. There are lots of ways to do it. Here are just a couple.
And of course, keep the conversation going. What are some ways you have developed a PLN?
Were you at #ISTE18? Share your connection story.