Wednesday, July 3, 2013

We Are Family...I've Got All My Techies with Me!

Last year, when I attended my first ISTE, I was amazed that I was able to come across people that I already had met at all points of the conference experience. In a sea of 15,000 attendees, it would not seem possible to regularly cross paths with acquaintances, yet I continually ran into people all over San Diego. How could I be at such a large conference, in a large city, and actually feel at home? (To read my blog post about Home Sweet ISTE click here.)
You could say that Twitter and social media are the reasons I feel at home at tech conferences. I am not a twitter superstar, as I just went over 1,000 followers during ISTE this past week. Yes, being on Twitter helps people stay connected. Yes, Twitter is one of the best ways to share information, neat lesson plans, innovative ideas, and student projects. Yes, participating in chats on Twitter allows people all over the world to discuss topics that can impact education and beyond. Reflecting on the ways I met many of the people I consider my Techie Family, Twitter had little to do with it.
Photo courtesy of @TechNinjaTodd!  Thanks Todd!
Steve Dembo (@teach42), one of my all-time favorites, has been a regular presenter at our state technology conference in Michigan referred to as MACUL (Ma-Call). I have interacted with him several times at our conferences. I owe him credit for mentioning Edmodo in a session in 2010, and I have been hooked ever since, leading to many awesome opportunities! Our conversations have ranged from an Iron Chef Technology Competition years ago to parental balancing acts and applying to be an ISTE presenter, to the pride he felt for his best friend Adam Bellow, after delivering the awesome ISTE 13 Closing Keynote.
Enjoying lunch in Greektown during the MACUL 2013 Conference. Photo via Erin Klein
Rushton Hurley (@RushtonH), another one of my favorite MACUL speakers, has become a great friend. After delivering the keynote at the Teaching and Learning in the Cloud conference in Holland a few years back, he attended my session on Edmodo. Having him there increased the pressure I put on myself, but he was so positive and laid back, I was able to view him as a normal conference goer. Since then, we have regularly connected at conferences, and he even included me in a FETC dinner he hosted this past January. I completely enjoy his passions for technology, education, and people! He has the best educational newsletters out there!  Make sure to go to and sign up to receive them!
Rushton is the founder of an awesome educational
Nick Provanzano (@thenerdyteacher), I first met when I attended EdCamp Detroit, in which he founded. In 2012 I joined the EdCamp Detroit Organization team. It was great connecting with him and helping out EdCamp Detroit. When I attended my first ISTE in 2012, I was able to meet Mayim Bialik and during the autograph session, she and I took a finger stache photo for Nick and Tim...the Edubros. I was even able to get her to sign a personal photo for Nick, which he absolutely loved...until someone stole it.
The EdCamp Detroit Team
I also met Erin Klein (@KleinErin) while working on EdCamp Detroit. She and I clicked, and at ISTE 12, we spent a lot of time together. I was so thankful to have her there, as I traveled alone to ISTE. Throughout this past year, Erin and I have grown closer, presented together, and I was even able to visit her classroom during one of my breaks. She and I have children that are the same age, we teach similar ages, and we both share a passion for technology and creativity! I love staying in contact with her and feel fortunate to have her here locally.  
Having fun at MACUL 2013! Photo via Erin Klein
Joan Young (@flourishingkids) and I had not crossed paths until the Bammy Awards this past September. I was waiting in line at Starbucks, and she was stopping to get a coffee before a run around DC. I don’t believe the run ever happened, as we talked for a long time! (For those who don’t know me...talking is another passion of mine!)   I had not followed her on Twitter until then, as I quickly realized she was a great resource to have in my PLN. We were able to spend a lot of great times together at ISTE this year, from singing on stage together to enjoying a dinner on the Riverwalk.  I have a huge amount of respect for the work she is doing to impact education and admire her heart!
Having fun in the photobooth with Ashlie and Joan

Speaking of fun!  I met Ashlie Smith (@smithsciencegms) at MACUL this year, as she works with Erin Klein.  She went to her first state conference in March and attended ISTE in June...which has been quite a roller coaster ride for her.  She has been a blast to hang around with, and I am so glad to have her here locally!  She is doing great things with flipping her classroom and creating quality videos to teach science concepts.
Catching up with Autumn at the Mobile Playground

Last year while hanging out with my college friends in Chicago, we met up with my friend’s sister and her friends. One of her sister’s friends is Autumn Laider (@MsLaidler). Autumn and I go way back to the daycare in Collier’s Lanes...a local bowling alley in Oxford. Our moms bowled on the same league, and we went to the same elementary school, yet were 5 years apart. I hadn’t seen Autumn in years, so I wasn’t clued in that she was in teaching, but once we started talking... I quickly realized she was able to talk the same language as talk! I rarely meet people out socially that can talk the edtech talk, and I was so excited to start following her on twitter! This past March, I was part of #AppMadness13, which was a fun way to introduce apps to others and have them advance through brackets voted on by people. Brad Wilson (@dreambition) and Andy Losik (@mrlosik) were the creators of it, and they asked me to join them. We needed another person, and I mentioned having Autumn join. It was so much fun! I hope we can do it again! Autumn attended her first ISTE this year, and I enjoyed connecting with her and catching the end of an awesome session she did with @MsMagiera.
Thank-you Adam!

While Erin, her husband, and I were waiting for our ISTE 12 flight home, we sat with Adam Bellow in the airport. We were able to pass the time along, by reflecting on ISTE, chatting about EduClipper, and just hanging out. This past year I have seen Adam several times from the Bammys to FETC and MACUL to the highlight of all highlights, ISTE 2013, where he was the closing keynote. When walking to lunch with him on the Saturday during HackEd, I learned what it must be like to be friends with a celebrity. Our group was stopped many times by either people Adam knew or people that wanted a photo with Adam. One, because he was wearing his Google Glass, and two, because he is Adam Bellow. The best part of it was, Adam was always the guy that I met hanging out at the airport...there wasn’t and isn’t an ounce of arrogance in him. When a woman said, “Adam Bellow...I have heard that name before,” he could have referred to his name and photo being everywhere, since he was the closing keynote, but he did not. He was very humble, and said, “Perhaps we have met before?” He’s one of the most genuine people I have met! 
Again, these are the people that I met the good old fashion way...face to face.  We began our relationships by starting conversations in line for coffee to having the guts to approach the keynote speaker to a simple introduction by an acquaintance to being on a committee together.  Our relationships have continued to be fostered through social media, but the true connections are when we share the physical space and time with each other!  Cheers to ISTE 2013 and my #EduFamily!  



  1. Thanks, Jennifer, for hanging out with me at #Iste13, sharing so many laughs, and inspiring me to be a better educator. I so admire all YOU are doing and look forward to the next time we get to see each other. Love this post!

  2. It is great to see that you and I have a similar takeaway. The people we connected with are people. I enjoyed meeting you Tuesday of the conference. You have given me another person to look to for support. Thank you for sharing.