As I sit and contemplate the beginning if ISTE 11, I wonder how many are concerned with being heard, seen, or just being noticed? Lately there have been many wonderful posts about what to do and how to approach ISTE and the immense overflow of input that people will face as they try to ingest the gluttonous amount of stimuli. I have even already heard someone state "I am star struck." So many people are here to be heard, so many here that need to be heard and so many that want someone to hear them.
Recently Bud Hunt had a post wondering if we are listening with all of the talk and "chatter" that is going on. While Beth Still has done a good job trying to include more people, especially the "newbies," I still wonder if we are reaching out enough to truly be inclusive?
There are many folks who have worked hard to attain the "status" they have and I do truly applaud them and I hope they continue with their work and forging the way. There are many trying to be heard and will all of the talk and noise going on I sometimes feel that it is hard for anyone to hear over the din. Everyone knows there are problems with schools, everyone knows that the politico's are trying to balance budgets on the backs of teachers and schools, and everyone knows that the economy is hurting everyone.
As I look around, many of the things were are doing today are merely a GUI digital version of what we have been doing for years. One of the differences is that we can do the same things with people from all over the world. I have so many questions rumbling around in my head and the main part of ISTE has not even started. I guess my main point is all of this is YES, we do have problems but what are we doing to solve them? What are WE doing to make things right? How are we as leaders laying it on the line to make it better for all those who are trying, who do give a damn, who do reach kids each and every dayand may not even have the electronic tools that some of us have?
How are we supporting what our children need? I believe that tech directors ( and yes I am one) or the keepers of the networks, need to loosen their death grips on "their" networks. The world is unfiltered. Does that mean let it all through? No, of course not. To me it means block the crap but still teach our children to continue to refine their crap detectors. Show and model responsible citizenship and in order to do that we have to allow our colleagues to be the professionals that they are each and every day.
We also need to listen and we need to listen the old fashioned way with mouths shut and both both ears open with an open mind. We may need to do it the truly old fashioned way by repeating what the other person says and stating it so that they have an opportunity to say no this is what I meant before we even formulate an answer. I must admit that when I first started as a tech director it was all about the hardware, the stability and the speed of "my network." Now I work with my boss and the curriculum director and it is in the educational needs of our students and school that drive what our network does and definitely not the other way around.
Fortunately, I have a great boss that allows me a lot of freedom and as a result this is my 13th or so ISTE. But 4 years ago I met some folks I consider true leaders who helped me to understand and truly "get it." I am just thankful that the Lord helped me to be open minded and willing to continue to learn because that way I can take the time to hear what is being said and continue to learn from there.
I hope you have a great experience at ISTE and don't merely run from one thing to another. Take the time to truly engage with people, listen to what they are really saying or askingand most of all learn what you need to learn to help you resolve some of the issues that you may have in your classroom, in your building, in your district or state. Just know that there are people willing to help and support you.
It took me a while to figure it out. Enjoy your time in Philadelphia.
So much to learn and so little time.