My ISTE Tribes

At the the ISTE 2015 conference in Philadelphia, I noticed the word “tribe” used  to describe the Twitter established networks.  Much like the game show Survivor, tribes worked and collaborated together over common challenges–I mean interests.  So let’s get your first look at my tribes and its players …

The Educoffee Tribe


Hosted by Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler), I initially had some difficulty finding the elusive Dunkin Donuts/ Starbucks in downtown Philadelphia. However, my discovery of this group was well worth that task.   I was delighted to find a group of connected educators talking about teaching and learning– the topics were varied, including great teaching apps, homework for kids,  and the philosophy of future schools .  This tribe of ISTE members are dedicated!  After all, they got up at 6:00 in the morning  just to talk about teaching.

Just a few of these tribe members include JoAnn Jacobs (@JoAnnJacobs68), David M Dutrow (@TeachDMD), Rodney Turner (@techyturner), and Jason Howse (@MrHExperience).  Basically Educoffee was like doing a Twitter chat face to face.  In small groups, we let the group’s interest dictate our conversation.  Furthermore, we had the freedom to flow in and out conversation groups much like Twitter.

My takeaway from this tribe is Twitter conversations face to face added another dimension to my existing professional learning network (PLN).

The Innovative Messenger Tribe 

Originally I was going to call this group the Edu-rockstar Tribe or those who seem to haveTwitter celebrity status. However, I felt uncomfortable equating education with fame, After all, aren’t all teachers “celebrities” to someone?  So I opted for “Innovative Messenger” much like evangelical Christians have the mission to spread God’s Word.  These people have new messages worth sharing.  Their ideas are captured in blogs, podcasts, Twitter chats, hangouts, videos, magazine articles, and published books.  They put the effort to build their PLN because they believe in their message.  I found them all over the Philadelphia Convention Center, but the Blogger’s Cafe was a sure congregation spot.

Here’s my condensed version for just a few members in this tribe:

  • Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) curates Twitter information including Twitterchats and times.  My early days referred back to this resource frequently.

    Jerry Blumengarten and me
  • Brad Wade (@techbradwade) and Drew Minnock (@TechMinock) podcast and speak about augmented reality and its implication to educators.  I was so blown away by the ideas these guys bring to education.
  • Erin Klein (@KleinErin) blogs about technology and the classroom.  You can’t be on Twitter without coming across Kleinspiration.

    Erin Klein and me
    Erin Klein and me
  • Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur) who Periscopes and shares her kids’ blogs.  When I first met Sarah, I was won over by her authenticity and dedication as a teacher.  Plus her kids were wonderful!

    Sarah Thomas and me
    Sarah Thomas and me
  • Beverly Ladd (@bevladd) who does a 24 hour Skype with her Grade 2’s.  To this day I cannot get over how she can do this with seven year olds.
  • Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein) who blogs about student advocacy and grading.
Starr Sackstein and me
Starr Sackstein and me
  • Greg Bagby (@Gregbagby) and Mary Avans(@MaryAvans1).  Greg co-moderates the #chattTechchat.  Because of time differences, Greg, as a morning person in the US, matches with me, as a night hour owl in Hong Kong.  If we were in the same time zone, I don’t think we would have connected.
Greg Bagby, Mary Alvans and me. Brad Currie in the background.
  • Sam Patterson (@SamPatue) works with coding and Sphero.  He’s also big on using puppets in education.
Marcie Hebert, Sam Patterson, (one of Sam’s puppets) and me

These innovators have demonstrated that passion matters.  Their effort, drive, and perseverance helped bring awareness to a larger audience.  My takeaway is to connect with purpose and passion!

The Leadership Tribe

ISTE had leaders with great ideas beyond classroom teaching.  I felt inspired by their stories for how to move their organization forward into the 21st century.  The Lead and Transform Town Hall was where I met Ken Willers (@21CenPrinKW).

At the Lead and Transform Town Hall
At the Lead and Transform Town Hall

Our conversation was engaging and forward thinking.  Some ISTE leader tribe players included educational consultant Chris O’ Neil (@onealchris), ISTE Chair-Elect Matt Harris (@MattHarrisEdD) and elementary principal Tony Sinanis (@tonysinanis).  My takeaway from this tribe is that leadership is about relationship.

#Not At ISTE Tribe

ISTE is probably the first conference I have attended whereby Twitter communication is an integral part of the experience.  With 20,000 attendees, the networking potential was huge.  However, the job of making meaningful connections in this .  Because many attendees were onTwitter, this platform helped build one to one relationships.  People connected by tweeting with the official hastag #ISTE2015.  The Twitter system allowed people in one’s existing network to link with new people following the ISTE hashtag.  The best part was thatTwitter brought those not at ISTE into the conversation.  In fact, ISTE can boast having a hashtag for its non-attendees (#NOTATISTE)IMG_6642

Hence, I value my #NOTATISTE tribe.  Thanks to Mary Cantwell (@scitechyedu #NOTATISTE), I got to talk in person with Dan Ryder (@wickeddecent, #ISTE2015) about design thinking.  Or Paula Naugle (@plnaugle, #NOTATISTE) introduced me to Robert Wiebe (@eduk8u, #IST2015) and we had a great discussion about teaching in Canada and overseas.  Finally credit goes to Craig Yen (@CraigYen) for dedicating time (including multiple world time zones) with the #NOTATISTE community,

My takeaway from this tribe is that virtual connection can be meaningful.  Just as in face to face relationships, we build upon our connection by being open and sharing.

The Tribe that Continues to Grow

As my tribes evolve, some connections are more enduring than others.  This last tribe is about long lasting bonds. Certainly some people already mentioned belong in this category, and membership continues to grow.  Let me introduce to you some more important players:

  • Todd Nesloney (@techninjatodd), Principal and White House Champion of Change
  • Andrea Stringer (@stringer_andrea), Moderator for #satchatoc

    Dr. Will and Marcie
    Dr. Will and Marcie
  • Dr. Will (@iamDrWill), Educational Leadership and Instructional Technologist
  • Danesa Menge (@Jepson), Kirstin Innes (@kirs10i), and Michael Maune (@mjmaune), my co-moderators for #ccsschat
  • Marcie Hebert (@mrsmhebert).  Marcie was the technology director who started my journey, and I thank her tremendously for opening new doors of learning.

You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned ISTE’s latest educational app, the coolest Ignite session, or the most inspirational speaker.   Truth is, I have found many of ISTE’s workshops and presentations similar to the educational conferences I have attended in Asia.    At this stage in my learning, the opportunity to interact with others outweighs passive listening to speakers.  The international schools setting can be competitive and reserved.  In contrast, I found the ISTE community to be welcoming and sharing.  For this, I am grateful for attending ISTE and connecting to my “tribe”.

Meme_3I have only hinted to the personalized learning I gained from conversations with these people.  If you are not involved with a PLN, my advice for you is the following.   The tribe has spoken, time to connect.

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