As I sit and contemplate the begining of 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 an ISTE and the immense overflow of input that people will face as they try to ingest the gluttunous amount of stimuli. I have already heard someone state "I am star struck." So many people are here to be heard, so many are here that need to be heard and so many that want to be heard.
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 with trying to include more people, especially the "newbies," I still wonder if we are reaching out enough to truly be inclusive?
There are many that have worked hard to attain the "status" they have and I applaud them for that and I hope they continue to forge the way. There are many trying to be heard and I sometimes feel that it is hard to be heard 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, everyone knows that economy is hurting everyone.
But as I look around, many of the things we are doing 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 11 hasn't even started. I guess my main point in all of this is YES, we have problems but how are we solving 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 of those who are trying, who do give a damn, who do reach kids each and every day and may not have the electronic tools that some of us have?
How are we supporting what our children need? I believe that Tech Directors (and that is what I am) 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 responsible digital 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 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 and then formulate an answer. I must admit that when I first started as a tech director it was all about the hardware, the stability and speed of "my" network. Now I work with my boss and the curriculum director and it is 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 13 or so ISTE. But 4 years ago I met some of those folks I consider true leaders who helped me to understand and to 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 and learn what you need to learn to help resolve some of the issues that you may have in your classroom, in your building, in your district or state. Just know there are people here 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.