It is ISTE time and I thought I would share some very important information for all of you out there who have never been to an ISTE before and for those looking to make this year's experience the best yet. The list below are some things that come to mind when I think of what makes ISTE great. Feel free to add anything you think I missed to the comments section below.
1. Be comfortable. This is not a super fancy affair where you need to rock your fancy heels or loafers. You will be walking and standing more than you can imagine. Wear "getting around" shoes. You will be moving from session to session and hurrying to lunch and standing and talking to friends. If you are not in a comfortable pair of shoes, you will have a miserable ISTE.
2. Find Steve Anderson (@Web20Classroom) and ask to take a picture with him. He loves it. He can find him by looking for the really handsome tall redhead in the crowd. Walk right up and take his picture.
3. Plan your schedule one day at a time. I say one day at a time, because you might learn something new each day and that might alter what you want to go and see and do the next. Also understand that you will not be able to see and do it all. There will be times where it is not possible to see all of the sessions and you will have to rely on Twitter to follow the action of other sessions.
4. Find Amanda Dykes (@AmandaCDykes) and compliment her on her shoes. This Southern Belle is always rocking some fancy shoes and she will be happy to talk to you about their long and rich history. Her shoes might be one of the highlights of your trip.
5. Drink heavily. You will need to keep hydrated during the course of the day as you move from place to place. Make sure you carry a water bottle and fill it up. You might not realize it because there will be air conditioning in the sessions, but we get so busy we forget to have a drink. You need to keep your stamina up for the night's events.
6. Find Kyle Pace (@KylePace) and give him a hug. He likes hugs, but not in a creepy way. Kyle is one of the most personal people I know and would love it if you were to stop by and ask him about being awesome.
7. Eat something. As much as it is important to stay hydrated, you also need to have your 3 meals a day and possibly a fourth meal. It is easy to get wrapped up and forget to have a nice meal, but remember that ISTE is a marathon, not a sprint. Find the time for a good sit down meal to rest and collect your thoughts.
8. Find George Couros (@GCouros) and ask him about fine dining. He will tell you were the closest Applebee's is and how to get there. He might even throw in some fun Canadian euphemisms to boot.
9. Mingle! You will learn some interesting things in the sessions, but I truly believe the best conversations are had int he hallways or the ISTE lounge areas. Do not be afraid to walk up to people and introduce yourself. We are all there to learn and we can only do that if people are willing to share. Most of us do not bite and will love to place a person to a avatar from our PLN.
10. Find the Tim Gwynn (@TGwynn) and compliment him on his mustache. He is looking to bring sexy back to educational technology and chose the mustache to do it. He is the other #EduBro and is looking to have some fun, share and learn. Also, he is kind of a big deal, owns many leather bound books and smells of rich mahogany.
11. Bring business cards. You will meet many different people and it can be tough to remember everyone. Business cards are a great way to quickly share that information with another person you have met so you can connect after the conference.
12. Find Mary Beth (@MBTeach) and trade cards with her. She posted pictures of her cards the other day and they are awesome. They are the must have goodie of ISTE.
13. Attend the parties. This is a huge one. Keep your ears open and connect with people to find out where the big events are this year. It is fun to get the free food and drink, but it is a nice chance to connect with some of your favorite companies and pick their brains. I've make some amazing connections in the past with different groups that have really impacted the way I run my class. These parties are fun and helpful.
14. Find Jerry Blumengarten and ask him anything. Seriously, you can ask this guy anything and he will have an answer for you. He is one of the most knowledgeable and busy "retired" educators I have ever seen and I cannot wait to get my picture with him. I secretly hope he will sign my chest.
15. Join Twitter - If you are not on Twitter at this point, I'm not sure what I can say to get you on board. You will be missing out on so much information if you are not on Twitter the week of ISTE. Not only do most of the speakers share information on Twitter, many of the attendees will be sharing resources as well. You can just create an account and follow the #ISTE12 tag to see all of the great info out there.
16. Find me (@TheNerdyTeacher) and say hello. I love meeting my PLN face to face. It's awesome to people able to shake a hand or give a big hug to someone from my PLN. I feel like I owe so many different people out there a thank you for all of the support and kind words the past year. You can find me at my sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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I hope you have a great time while you are at #ISTE12 and I look forward to seeing many of you in person. Safe travels!