There was a moment in Stephen Reid‘s session when he described what it felt to walk the streets of Philadelphia…moments of thought common to minecrafters. He said that as he looked at buildings, he saw beyond their stature and literally saw himself through the lens of building them. His words… “I can build that”…formed the phrase that lasted beyond any other moment at ISTE. The power of knowing what you are capable of is empowering.
More on that later…
For me, the best parts of ISTE weren’t the moments that people may think. It was amazing to nervously give an ignite about diversity…twice. I was starstruck meeting Soledad O’Brien, especially after being told that I only fought for her speaking because she was a woman of color and because I was a fan. (She killed it, didn’t she??) I even had a workshop that went quite well.
My excitement about ISTE was in none of those things but in the result of those things…The Powerful Connections that I made with people. I will always love that.
I was once a lurker, a person watching from the shadows of the room in a distant chair. I was terrified that talking to people would invite their judgement and the idea of being rejected was paralyzing. As a matter of fact, the first time that I allowed myself to truly connect, the people that I talked to didn’t even remember. Those people are some of my closest friends now but it’s a meeting that we still disagree about. It’s still telling that people have conversations with entire groups of people and often fail to see the individuality of the group itself.
It was two years ago at an ISTE where, possibly one of the biggest voices in Education, George Couros…basically willed me to blog and I have done that with a vengeance. It was at an ISTE that I learned that my silence about my own passions and the work that I did held me back more than the pronounced over-speaking of others. This is what motivates me to be as open as possible and to give people the same attention that I was given…perhaps motivating them to open up the same.
Yes, a conference is one big social gathering but by focusing on the single moments of negativity and disconnectedness, it’s easy to forget about the insurmountable amounts of real connecting that are taking place amongst people who are learning and finding their “tribes” for the first time.
Back to Minecraft…
Perhaps, my favorite moment was sitting beside a teacher waiting in line 2 hours early for the Minecraft class. She had never played herself but was interested in perhaps finding an outlet for her students to play in an after school program. She said…”Starting is what matters” and she was so right. It was in that room that I literally could have lived all week…and not because I am a Minecraftoholic (I am)…but because there is something completely magical about a person discovering such creativity for the first time.
As an parent and aunt, I have watched my own nephew find his creative voice through minecraft and as a district leader, I hope that we can help other kids and teachers do the same. If you missed the line wrapped down the hall and around the corner for Minecraft, you truly missed a treat as it was the place to be at ISTE!!
Also, Microsoft brought the best possible person in Stephen to lead the “beginner session” as his perspective was truly inspiring and I definitely plan to draw upon his nuances to help our teachers understand how and why Minecraft impacts learning.
Hint…Get in and do the simplest of things…Build!
When Stephen said, “I can build that”….I related to it on a much deeper level than minecraft.
I can learn that.
I can do that.
I can be that.
I can _______ that.
Like the multiple learning pathways of ISTE…It’s your blank to fill.