Why ISTE and NotatISTE is Important
ISTE is not just about cool new tools, apps, and websites. It is also about a bigger conversation much more important than all of the technological resources that excite everyone. At ISTE, there are lots of discussions about the state of education, our role as educators, and what students really want from us on their educational journey. The group of educators at ISTE are forward thinking educators who want all students to have equity in their learning and are prepared for an unknown future.
This is important to note because there are some people who are misinformed about the role of educational technology. Yes, it is exciting to explore a new app or gadget. However, this is not why we want to use technology in our classroom. The reason for using technology is because it makes us more efficient and it helps to engage students. Technology makes personalized learning a classroom standard. It also allows us to connect with others across the world. In short, technology makes the impossible possible.
Rapidly Changing Society
If you take the time to think about the changes that have taken place from 2000 until now, you will realize that times are changing faster than they ever have before. If you blink your eye, you have missed something. All of a sudden, everyone is connected to each other and to the internet. We have access to a lot of information all of the time. Our lives are on display in the form of social media. Even if you do not indulge in Facebook or Instagram, there is some part of your life online. Government agencies, hospitals, and stores all rely on the internet to store your personal information.
Despite this, there are many teachers that are teaching in the same ways they have been teaching for the past 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years. These teachers are expecting students to perform and behave the same way they have in the past. They rely on the practices that have always worked for them instead on adapting their practice to what works for students. I have known teachers that use the same lesson plans year after year. Some teachers, even leave classroom decoration and anchor charts up all year long. They don’t even take it down over the summer.
This practice tells me that these teachers are more concerned with their comfort than what their students are learning. They are not considering the fast pace of society today or the changes in their students. To these teachers, I ask, ” What is their purpose? Are you here to teach or are you here so that students can learn?”
Connect with Others and Tell Your Story
ISTE gives us the opportunity to connect educators who are just like us. We are educators that are looking for ways to teach students in this ever-changing world. We want our students to have the courage to tell their story in their own way. As teachers, we want students to have the opportunities to see places and things they normally would not be exposed to. We are dedicated to teaching students to be appreciative and empathic to the world that surrounds us. We want students to see that failing is nothing to be shameful of, it is just a stepping stone on their life path.
The topics explored at ISTE during these past two days touched upon all of this. It is refreshing for me to be among others who want to elicit this change in education. It’s helpful to know that you are not the only one swimming upstream against the current with many other teachers going downstream, opposite you. To hear the words spoken during the keynote by Jennie Magiera left me feeling euphoric and hopeful. Once I am back, away from like minded people, all I can do is be a ripple and make changes where I can.
I am so very grateful for the people who are at ISTE as well as those who are #NotatISTE that are helping me to experience this wonderful conference.
What are your takeaways from the conference so far?