Feeling blue about being #isteless

This is a tough week for me.

Not only is it the last week of the school year at the Salem Middle School—an exhausting time for any teacher—but I’m missing the ISTE conference in Philadelphia.

Now don’t get me wrong:  I wouldn’t trade the chance to say goodbye to my kids in for ANYTHING.

I’ve got a remarkable bunch this year that I’m going to miss times ten, and if missing ISTE means spending a few more days with a group that’s won my heart, so be it.

In fact, if I were completely honest, it’s not even ISTE that I’m sad about missing.

Sure, there’s bound to be some great sessions that would have taught me a little something new about learning in today’s world.  I definitely would have picked up a strategy or two on my three-day intellectual sojourn to Philly.

What I’m really sad about is the people I’m missing during my #isteless adventures.

You see, darn near all of the most influential minds in my PLN are at ISTE.  People like George Courous and Patrick Larkin are there—hanging out with Lyn Hilts and Meredith Stewarts.

Scott McLeods are there.  Eric Sheningers are there.  Chris Lehmanns are there.  Chad Sansings are there.

And while those names might not mean a whole lot to you, they are the kinds of people who have impacted my thinking time-and-time again in the digital spaces that we share.

That’s the beauty of social media spaces, isn’t it?

Simple tools like Blogs and Twitter and U-Stream and Elluminate and Ning have made it possible to learn from really bright people who live a world away.

#itsafactjack

More importantly, simple tools like blogs and Twitter and U-Stream and Elluminate and Ning have made it possible to feel a real connection—an intellectual kinship, even—with people that I may never meet in real life.

I care about the Georges, Patricks and Lyns in my learning network because they’ve shared what they know with me.  They’ve given freely of themselves and made their practices and their philosophies transparent.

They’ve given me the courage to try things I would never have considered.  They’ve introduced me to peers that I would never have been introduced to.  They’ve asked questions that I would never have thought to ask.

More importantly, they’ve pushed back against my own thinking—serving as the professional sounding board that I can’t always find in my own community.

ISTE would have been a chance to cement those relationships.  To meet face-to-face.  To have an extended conversation in a real physical space.

To add a touch of personal to my learning network.

#nuts

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Related Radical Reads:

The Importance of a PLN

Technology Facilitates Connections

Lathered Brilliance and Superman Underoos