Are You Prepared For ISTE 2019?

By Esra Murray

“Bold Educators Activate Change.” What a tagline for #ISTE19 Conference, held in Philadelphia this year from June 23-26! I look forward to this event every year, it’s my outlet to feed my teaching soul, empower my learning mind, and ignite my bursting heart for the year ahead.

The city of Philadelphia. I cannot imagine a more complementary destination than this year’s location for the purpose of the conference- the city of “Brotherly Love”, the city of American Independence, the city of unique culinary adventures…

With that being said, over the many years, I’ve attended and presented at ISTE, the conference could be incredibly overwhelming or underwhelming if you don’t prepare yourself for what to expect. For this year’s experience, I have been able to narrow down a few must-do’s prior to the conference that gets me in the right frame of mind.  I would like to share some of the tips and bits that I hope will be helpful ahead of walking (or wandering) the hallways at the conference:

1. Plan Ahead: “Start with Why” It’s near impossible not to start asking for the driving purpose of attending #ISTE19 after reading Simon Sinek’s must-read book on leadership and inspiration. To me, ISTE conferences provide a glimpse into what could exist in my practice and give me the tools to create experiences never been had before. I tend to be attracted to sessions that focus on process over product. Draw a roadmap of what you’d like to get out of ISTE by reviewing the program threads. Where do you see your practice expand? Choose an area and map out your experience. If you need some suggestions, ISTE has prepared some sample schedules around different roles such as library media specialists and school leaders,  and around a variety of concepts such as digital equity and artificial intelligence.

2. Must-Attend Sessions: While you’re developing your own favorites, there are some sessions that you should really incorporate into your schedule: Main Stage Sessions, Ignite sessions, Playgrounds, Poster Sessions, and Social Events such as EdTech Karaoke. On Sunday, for example, I cannot wait to hear Mike Walsh– yes, of the Algorithmic Leader fame- share his view of how to lead and create in our changing world. If you haven’t, grab his book prior to ISTE19. And Rabbi Michael Cohen will continue to push our thinking about where we want to position ourselves tomorrow!

3. Connect! There are quite a few ways to engage prior to attending ISTE19. One tool highly recommended and followed is Twitter and its hashtags for #ISTE19 as well as #NotAtISTE19 if you’re planning to “attend” ISTE19 virtually. From these posts, I saw this creative way of connecting with teachers from the same district, a great way to plan ahead if you’re in a large district. Another way to connect is through the ISTE PLNs. Almost all the PLNs are planning meet & greet sessions along with Happy Hours prior to and during the conference. It’s an amazing way to get together with educators who share the same passions as you. You can search through these gatherings by downloading the ISTE mobile app- yes, it is available to download now!

4. Map Your Route in the Exhibition Hall! Even the savviest can get lost in the maze of the Exhibition Hall! Take a look at the floorplan to identify vendors you’d like to visit. I usually make a list of vendors we use in our district, and stop by their booths to say hello and often, to get updates. Remember to allocate enough time for the Exhibition Hall- my colleagues and I have come across new opportunities to bring some really cool ideas and tools into our schools.

5. Document Your Journey! Simply because there will be so many unique experiences at ISTE19 and you want to capture them all! You may want to sketch your notes a la Sylvia Duckworth , or use a combination of @Google Suite collaboration tools to document your experiences. You can then turnkey your learnings to colleagues by sharing your notes. Also, keep in mind that each session, playground, etc. comes with a digital toolbox that’s filled with useful items. Click on the toolbox to save it into your digital tote. I am also quite photo-happy during ISTE, as I tend to snap photos of everything that interests me from attendee badges (so I can connect with them later!) to posters, to inspirational moments.

Most importantly, bring an open mind and an open heart, and be willing to take risks. I have encountered many unplanned, serendipitous moments at ISTE that brought so much joy to me as an educator. Pack your chargers, wear your most comfortable shoes, dress in layers, and get ready for one of the most professionally rewarding times!

Esra will be presenting at the #ISTE2019 Seal of Alignment Poster Session, Tuesday, June 25, 12:30-2:30 pm.  

Be sure to read Esra’s previous articles for the Level Up Village blog:

Trending at ISTE 2016

Top Summer Recharge, Refresh and Refuel Books for Educators

Top Reads to Kick Off Your School Year

ISTE Frame of Mind: Five Tips to Prepare For This Year’s Conference

Level Up Village (LUV) is the first organization to receive the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) Seal of Alignment at the Proficiency Level for the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.  

Here’s our schedule at #ISTE2019:

Booth #349 in the Exhibit Hall throughout the week

Tuesday, June 25th: ISTE Seal of Alignment Poster Session, 12:30-2:30 pm