What followed was a day of stimulating conversation, a lot of laughs, and a lot of connections. So what were my biggest take away’s? Well, the connections were incredible. Every day I pour my heart on on this blog and on Twitter, so to have people come up and tell me that they know who I am and like what I write, really was mind-blowing for this small town girl. Also, to get a chance to sit down and speak to some of the educators I learn from myself was incredible. The different experiences, stories, and perspectives really offered me a jolt of knowledge.
I also learned a lot about myself. I can speak in front of peers that I respect even if I have not met them before. I can also voice my opinion without being too bullheaded about it. I learned that somehow I am making meaningful connections with people that I have met through Twitter. It was also amazing to hear other non-present people’s names being brought into the conversation and others recognizing the names. It truly showed just how connected one can be on Twitter.
And finally, the idea of regular people setting the agenda, offering choice, and impromptu conversations, really played into my belief that we must offer our students choice. I chose to leave one session because I was not adding anything useful to it, instead we created a smack down which was incredible. I chose to be part of a session on grading, because it is something I am passionate about. I chose what I wanted to learn, how I wanted to be challenged, so my stake was personal and I was more engaged. That is what we should offer our students as well.
So did I get inspired, sure, but mostly I had my spirit renewed. There are passionate educators out there who have no problem with spending an entire Saturday discussing how we best can reach students. That is incredible. There are people out there who have no qualms of telling you exactly how they feel even if they disagree with you, but also this sense of not being alone. I often reach to Twitter to be inspired, but I often walk away with new energy and new passion. EdCampChicago did that for me as well. I am sad that I will not be at ISTE this year, but hopeful that next year will be my year for truly making the face-to-face connections. I will be there in spirit.