For me, ISTE 2014 was more than about coming face to face with educators that I’ve connected with via twitter. It was also bigger than being on stage to give one of the opening ignite speeches. It was 100% about re-igniting my passion as a creator and more importantly as the creative director of my own life. (more on this later)
You see, as of late, I’ve been in a bit of a struggle with myself over my choice to join the ranks of the edtech community. As a die hard math educator, I’ve just been feeling a bit blahhh when it comes to technology…period. I hate talking about devices and I despise having to dedicate so much time to the mechanics of them which isn’t a great feeling to have when doing so is so much of your job. Don’t get me wrong…I love technology but I adore the art of learning even more and understanding that means knowing that the device itself is the least important…yet access to it is critical…if that makes sense.
I have to say that the conversations at ISTE more than re-energized me. As a matter of fact, I’ve never felt more driven to work towards a greater purpose and I have the moments below to thank.
The Personal Stories
Being one of the ignite speakers and sharing from the lens of my nephew gave me a bit of an “in” when it came to conversations. Beyond talking about the speech itself, people felt compelled to share stories of their children and I loved that.
One such moment involved a teacher named Tammy who in the moments directly after the ignites, stopped me to share about her daughter who just finished making her own puppets. As a matter of fact, her daugher frequented my nephew’s puppetry Tackk and she was shocked to see me there sharing him. I cried as we hugged because children liker her daughter were the reason that we shared his work to begin with.
I still get chills thinking about that moment.
The Edtech StartUps & Programmers
There was a time when I was a bit annoyed with startup folks but that was not the case this year. First, I met the creators of LessonCast, a platform aimed at helping preservice teachers become reflective lesson designers. As a matter of fact, I spent the day with its creators Nicole and Khalid. I was blown away by their passion for why they created their product. They were also the first black edtech developers that I have ever met and knowing the climate to which they joined, their dedication to their purpose moved me. They weren’t just there to say, “hey look at what I’ve done” but “Hey, what are your thoughts and how might we improve?”. I loved that!
I also met Eli, the brains behind my favorite creation of all time, Desmos! The beauty of meeting Eli was that I almost didn’t go to that meetup because I was so tired. I would have been so disappointed had I missed it. When you talk to him about Desmos, his eyes twinkle and you feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. It’s truly remarkable. I loved hearing secrets behind Desmos as well as the story behind teacher.desmos.com, their new venture into connecting math classrooms. Eli also promised me that I could kickstart their Desmos instagram and I’m totally holding him to that because it’s a genius idea…just saying! He’s just a cool dude who had an idea that would go on to change math classrooms. I’m so happy that I met him. Did I mention that yet?
— Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) July 4, 2014
The Conversation Regarding Math that I Needed
I could go on and on about all of the other conversations that I had during ISTE because they were all remarkable but the most touching one came at the hands of Jessica V. Allen who asked me to meet with teachers from her school in Chile regarding technology in math. Their educational system is very different from ours and while there was a language barrier…passion and excitement needs no translation. Without going into the specifics of our conversation, I will just say that it was the most rewarding moment for me at ISTE. I have never felt more motivated and excited than during that conversation that happened to take place on the final day of the event. It helped that this teacher just experienced Eli’s session on Desmos and was equally as excited about it!
— Jessica V Allen (@jessievaz12) July 1, 2014
So, as my goal was to be re-ignited…I most certainly was and the added bonus was being able to connect with all of you!