Every conference I attend, I return home feeling like my life is richer. My mind could burst with all of the new ideas that I can't wait to bring back to my classroom. The sessions are great, the keynotes fantastic; however, what makes each experience so amazing is without a doubt, the people. To be surrounded by like-minded educators who share the same passion and zeal for education is energizing and inspiring to say the least.
This past week, I flew across the country from Medford, Oregon to Orlando, Florida, eager to connect with friends that I met through Twitter and Voxer conversations; close friends that I experience life with even though many miles and time zones separate us. In fact, some of these friends I had never even met face to face. For those who are not connected via social media, I know this must sound strange....maybe even crazy. However, it is absolutely true. My experience at FETC was made richer because of the meals and rich discussions we shared, sessions we facilitated together, long walks and Uber rides to sessions, and evening events. Spending time together not only strengthened our friendships, but also allowed us to expand our connections as we met others each were connected to. It was the hallway conversations, the evening discussions over dinner, the fun and laughter, that took my FETC experience to another level. I wonder how many people have conference experiences that are limited to the sessions they attend, the keynote, and the EXPO Hall wanderings? How many attend and only connect with the people they came with from their district?
There was a time when my conference experiences were limited to that as well. I didn't know any different. So what makes my experience different now? I have a Personal Learning Network....no, I have a Personal Learning Family. My PLF is made up of people from all around the world that I connect with on a daily basis through Twitter, Voxer, and even Snapchat. This amazing network of educators continually inspire, encourage, and challenge me time and time again and I most certainly would not be the educator I am today without them. It is safe to say that because of my global connections I have grown exponentially as an educator and opportunities have opened up to me that I would have never even dreamed of. I am more confident and courageous than I ever thought possible.
As I fly home and reflect on my amazing week, I am reminded of the tremendous power of being a connected educator. My life is richer because of the connections I've made and the friendships that have developed. My author friend, Aaron Hogan, sums it up beautifully in this quote from his book #TeacherMyth...
Sketchnotes of some of the #FETC sessions I attended:
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning MAGICAL for students!