Part 3: Dessert!
Remember to save room for dessert? No trip to the buffet would be complete without it. Forget about counting calories - just dive in! My favorite part of a buffet is the dessert and my favorite part of the NECC buffet was the opportunity to spend time and have fun with some amazing people. I'll have to admit that one of my primary reasons for attending was to renew friendships with many of the Discovery Educators I met at the DEN National Institute last year. Just knowing that these people would be in San Antonio made my first NECC experience a lot less intimidating.
In addition to spending time with DEN friends, I was delighted to meet many others I only knew online through Twitter, the Discovery Educator Network, or Second Life. I owe a big thanks to Anne Truger and Tom Turner (both NECC veterans) for helping me make connections and friendships with some wonderful tech educators. My personal learning network continues to grow.
Hats Off To Discovery
If one group has done more than any other to help me connect, grow, and learn it would be the folks at Discovery. I like to think of Scott, Steve, Hall, Lance, Matt, Joe, Brad, Justin, and of course mother-to-be Jannita as good friends and education professionals who just happen to work for an awesome company. The DEN event at Enchanted Springs Ranch was yet another opportunity to learn, connect, and have fun with other teachers. Here I finally got to meet Martha Thornburgh, a teacher I've collaborated with online but never met in person. Thanks DEN.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Teachers That Play Together...
Not only is NECC an a great opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with other teachers on a professional level, its also a great place to play together as well. And play we did! As I mentioned in my previous post, its all about relationships. I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to meet and get to know teachers like Lee "@Teachakidd" Kolbert, Darcy White, Tim Childers, Chad "IMC Guy" Lehman, and the infamous Riptide Furse! It was fun to get pulled out onto the dance floor by Anne Truger & Teryl Magee, to find out what SL's Lori Abrahams is doing in RL, and to catch up with fellow "Academic Excursion" cruisers Jennifer Gingerich, Elaine Plybon, Tanya Gray, Heather Hurley, and of course Howard Martin - the voice of Igneous Rock himself. I really hope that we can keep communication open through Skype, Twitter, and other online tools.
The Jen W Factor
Finally, I need to share another NECC treat on my dessert tray. Even though Jen Wagner was not able to attend NECC, she was busy at home Ustreaming, Skyping, and using any other means possible to connect to the conference. For me, having Jen there virtually was like having a little Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder guiding me through my first national conference. I really appreciated her reminders to, "Make sure you go and see a presentation from someone you don't know", and "Don't just be a sponge, also be a watering can." Jen helped alert me to opportunities I shouldn't miss and people I should try to meet. It was my pleasure to be a small part of the crew that helped keep her connected to the conference. I still have fun telling people she sat on my lap during Jakes & Shareski's "One Hour Power Point" session. Thanks Jen.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dean Shareski on Flickr (Modified by Me)
Just writing these last three blog entries have helped me review and organize many of the things I learned at NECC this year, but if I had to pick one major lesson I learned it would be this: "Its not what you use its how you use it." This message is nothing new of course, but it was reinforced while talking to teachers and visiting the poster sessions over my 5 days at NECC. We are blessed with an abundance of technology tools at my school in Orange, CA. It was humbling to see how some teachers are doing more with so much less. Therefore I'm resolved this year to do my best and make the most out of the technology we've been given and use it to help our students become powerful thinkers, creators, and problem solvers.
That's about it. Thanks for taking time to read about my NECC buffet experience. There's so much more I would have liked to try. I'll definately have to make it back for NECC next year in Washington DC. I'm sure my plate will once again be piled high with great presentations and conversations. Then again, maybe I'll skip all that and just go for the dessert.
Can I offer anyone a "wafer thin mint"? :)