Getting Ready for ISTE 2016

Yikes!! I can’t believe that ISTE 2016 is almost here!!! I have been dying to go to ISTE for a very long time and finally this year I have the chance to go! In fact, my district just hired 9 EdTech Teacher Leaders as an extra duty position and they are sending the whole squad!! Well minus two members of the team who just happened to be having babies this month. 🙂

I am actually quite surprised by the amount of information and prep leading up to this conference. I already knew it was going to be a BIG one and that it would most likely be overwhelming but I did not expect the amount of connecting and collaboration that would happen in the months leading up to the conference. I have been very lucky to have “met” some amazing people in my Twitter PLN who have guided me in the right direction concerning the ins and outs of ISTE planning. I also recently was invited to join my very first Voxer group to discuss ISTE with others who have been to ISTE before. I have learned quite a few things but some of the most important tips and tricks I’ve learned are:

  1. Make sure to have a business card handy. A business card? What? As a teacher I don’t think I’ve ever needed a business cardScreen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.02.58 PM before so….I’ve never made one! But, it turns out that you will be meeting A LOT of people at ISTE and one of the biggest benefits of the conference itself will be the connections you make and continue once the conference is over. So I went on Groupon and found a great deal on business cards. $9.99 for 100 cards on Zazzle printed front and back. I included my name, title, Twitter Handle, Voxer, email, and blog site. Here’s the link to the Groupon deal if you want to check it out:
  2. Print labels with your info. on them to use for the drawings in the Expo. I went to NCCE 2016 in February which is about half as small as ISTE and it was insane trying to write my info on a million little tickets to enter myself into raffles in the Expo hall. I can only imagine how many there will be at ISTE!! I read somewhere that it would take 46 hours to walk and stop on every aisle in the Expo at ISTE! That just blows my mind! Now don’t get me wrong…I love free stuff but I definitely don’t want to spend two entire days of the conference walking around the EXPO. So, in an effort to kick my free stuff into high gear, I created some labels with the required info on them so that I can just slap the label on the entry form and call it a day! Some info to make sure and include would be: name, district, address (I put my school address), phone number (classroom/school number), and email address. I also made my labels on Zazzle and was able to pay one S&H for both my cards and my labels. You can check out the labels here:
  3. Plan but be flexible. Planning ahead is vital when it comes to such a large conference. I read that there are over 1,000 different sessions held plus workshops, keynotes, and all of the “activities” that aren’t listed on the schedule! The first thing I did was download the ISTE 2016 app on my iPad and my iPhone. If you haven’t done that yet go do it! NOW! It’s great because you can browse the different options by day and time and then click on the star to favorite the ones you like. Once I went through a few times and made sure that I had everything I liked favorited, I went through my favorites and narrowed down the sessions by day and time. I now have a loose idea of what sessions I want to go to. Some advice that I got from my Voxer friends is to walk the conference center before the conference starts and check out where the sessions are. Sometimes you might pick two sessions that are back to back but are so far apart physically that it would be impossible for you to make it on time. Also, I made sure that I didn’t plan every second of every day. I’m going to need some down time to relax and reflect on the things that I’ve learned. I might also hear about a session while I’m there or meet up with a great group to collaborate with. I’m definitely the planning type but I am trying my best to stay flexible!!

Just a few more weeks and we will be on our way to Denver!! Woohoo!! So excited to learn and experience ISTE for the first time! If you haven’t already, please connect with my on Twitter at @hmarrs24