Archive for Conferences

Please don’t let your label of Distinction become a Deterrent

As many of you prepare for a summer of learning — via a variety of venues — edcamps, conferences (both in house and online), and summits — to share your expertise…….

Some of you carry with you the “recognition” factor.    You are – what I call “the knowns”.   You blog frequently, you have an abundance of followers, you might podcast, you might instragram or voxer, you have keynoted/featured speaker, and won a variety of awards.

You might have even been given a “label” of some type.

An elevation perhaps that puts you into a category — that at times, can distance you from others.

I encourage you to remember your journey — and share it with others.  It is easy to say “look what I have achieved and marvel at it” — but it is more helpful and much more educational to say “let me tell you how I was able to do this.”

You can have your minions circulate around you this summer — and walk away with your ego patted on the back — OR you can take this opportunity to grow others in their own journey.

I ask you to…….

*  Take the time to not have people walk UP to you….but walk up to others.
*  Take the time to sit in the session of a first time presenter….and then invite them to coffee afterwards and listen to their ideas.
*  Take the time to share the names of others who have helped you on your journey…..and introduce people to other people.
*  Take the time to invite someone new to your table when you go out to dinner… don’t need to entertain them, just make them feel included.
*  Take the time to use the words you and us and them …..instead of I and me.

When you become an authority — which many of you are —
And respected — which many of you are…….

People will marvel — and with that marvel, there is also the tendency to step back.

I invite you….this summer… step forward.

and share how you got to where you are now.


What NOT to do at ISTE

As you begin to prepare for your trek to Philadelphia to the ISTE 2015 conference — here are some helpful suggestions I hope you might just take to heart.


What NOT to do at ISTE


1.  Dismiss an idea or speaker too soon!
We have gotten into a habit of “voting with our feet” and moving in and out of sessions way too quickly (especially edcamp veterans)
And I would like to invite you to stick around a bit longer and hear a bit more before you “move on.”
Sometimes we move way too fast and slowing down, listening, digesting, marinating thoughts — takes a bit of time.

2.  Dismiss a speaker because of their lack of “digital presence”
Just because a teacher does not have a twitter account, a blog presence, voxer, etc DOES NOT mean they don’t have something worthy to hear.   Please don’t lump all teachers into a “MUST BE DOING” category.  Each of us bring a different valuable piece of the puzzle to our kids…..find out what this teacher’s part is.

3.  Shy Away from the KNOWNS
You will run into people who you have decided are famous….and you might be shy to walk up and say “HI”.   Push that feeling aside and walk up and introduce yourself.  Sometimes, you will find out that KNOWN is just as timid to say “HI” as you are.   So, take a breath, and take a chance — and say “HI” to someone who you have respected and admired from afar.

4.  Eat Alone and/or Eat with the Same Group
Especially if you are first time to a conference (or perhaps an introvert) — it is easy to eat alone —
If you attend a lot of conferences — it is easy to congregate with those you are comfy —
Regardless of which side you fall — MAKE SURE YOU EAT WITH SOMEONE and PERHAPS EAT WITH SOMEONE NEW — or invite someone new to join your group!

5.  Attend the SAME sessions by the SAME speakers
We all have our favorites that we love to hear again and again — but take a chance to hear a new voice, a new idea, a stranger.
You know you will learn from the person you have heard before — so go hear someone new.   And then perhaps have a conversation with that favorite to share what new things you learned.

6.  Sleep In and Go To Bed Early
There is so much happening at the conference — try to be the first one at events and the last one to go.
As a good friend said “You can sleep on the plane.”
There are a lot of good conversations just waiting to happen — at the Starbucks line BEFORE it gets too crowded, waiting for the keynote to start, in the lounge as the noise quiets down, walking the exhibit hall for the last time, etc.
Try to pack as many hours of ISTE into your day as you possibly can.

7.  Miss out on Philadelphia
ISTE is great but so is where you are!
The 4 best things I did away from ISTE was
b.  Lights of Liberty —
c.  Double Decker Bus Tour —
d.  Independence Hall —

8.  Keep Your Ideas to Yourself
You will be overwhelmed — and you will need to decompress —
so find a way to do so — DAILY.
Whether you wander into the bloggers cafe and talk with someone, or you blog, or twitter out your thoughts.
Make sure you share what you are learning — DAILY!

9.  Leave Without Meeting Anyone New
Take the time to say “HI” to someone you do not know.
Take the time to walk up to a speaker and say “THANK YOU”.
Put down your phone, look up, and chat.
Share your contact information with at least 5 new people and get their information too.

10.  Miss the EXTRA EVENTS
Listen to conversations, follow the twitter feed, visit the iste app (there is one, right?) — and attend the extra events.
Attend Karaoke, the DEN birthday party, the Google Event, etc etc etc.
Stay alert to any extra event and try to join in the fun.
(and if you have invites to extra events….ask someone new to join in the fun!)

Just my thoughts of how NOT TO DO ISTE
What are your suggestions.


So, you want to host a #notat…….

Several people have written me emails or sent DM with questions about how to host a #NOTAT……. for other upcoming conferences……

So, here are my thoughts:

Step One:
Don’t overthink it, or you won’t do it.
I expected 20 to join this group — we are almost to 300.   🙂

Step Two:
Gather the troops!
Start with a simple google form
formto gather people’s information (I forgot to gather zip codes – which then we could have taken into mapalist to make a very nice map of all our participants.)
(If you don’t have a google account — get one — it will be your very best friend!)
I also created a google doc with info, a google presentation for people to share about themselves, and a G+ Community.   (This was my first time setting up a G+ and I made the mistake of making it private – sorry, that was an oops!)
If you have never used Google – after you log into your gmail account — look for the tiny 9 box up
dotsby the bell on your page, click on that, it will take you to everything you need:   Drive (for documents), G+ (for your community) and more.   Use the hashtag or twitter account when you announce your group — that will help it be seen by everyone who is following the conference on twitter.

Step Three:
Be ready for conversation!
and be personable.
I sent out a welcome email with information to each new member.
As they began to build their slides and post to our community — others stepped up with “welcomes” and “oh, tell me more”, etc.   Our community was very welcoming, very helpful, and very kind.
But to be honest, I think I was busier being #NOTATISTE14 than I would have been at ISTE2014.   Watching twitter, getting requests to join, looking for links, etc took time.

which leads to

Step Four:
Do Not Do This Alone!
Not soon after we began to get a lot of interest, I realized that I needed help.  Plus, I had some personal things (this weekend) I needed to take care of and needed to be Away From The Computer — so I recruited helpers.  Vicky Sedgwick and Lindsay Foster became moderators.  (that meant that they could OK people into the Google Community, etc.)   Vicky started an idea with Badges that just took off and the photowalk was her idea as well.   Sue Waters and Craig Yen keep things current on flipboard and twitter and Jeffrey See went above and beyond by getting vendors to provide doorprizes for our challenge!
In fact, there is an entire extension of our group on VOXER that I have no clue what is going on…..but I trust that Barb Gilman and Vicky Sedgwick are taking good care of it.
Don’t feel you have to have your team in place before you begin — but when people step up to help, let them fly!!!

Step Five:
Make it FUN!!
For me, there had to be more to #NOTATISTE14 than just a hashtag….so I created the CHALLENGE.   10 ways to get points at ISTE and get #notatiste14 people really to feel that were there — virtually.
People started suggesting ideas for challenge points, we had some confusion and needed to clarify some challenge points, and I created a google spreadsheet where people could track their own points (using the honor system) — and though not everyone jumped on board with this — several are having a grand time.
We are also going to try a Google Hangout Karaoke — more on this later.
SO — add some fun to your event.   You don’t have to have challenges, but have something that involves your group in a creative way

Step Six:
Check Your Ego at the Door
You are going to get thank you’s and you are going to get other thoughts as well.  If you are controlling — like I can be, I admit it — you will have to step back and let people run with ideas.    If you feel you HAVE to have your fingerprints on everything — you will be frustrated, your group will be frustrated, and there will be regrets.    People are going to forget how this community started —  people will NOT forgot what this community provided.   And it is NEVER just one person on a team.

Step Seven:
Protect Your Community
Though we were open to everyone — there were certain protective things – important to me — that I implemented for our group.
#1 — I protected their emails.   When sending info to the group, I BCCed.
If they put their email on their slide in the presentation, I didn’t worry about it — they had posted it!
#2 — We did not let vendors into the community to “vendor”
After ISTE2013, where vendors infiltrated the bloggers cafe disguised as “friends” — I had my guard up when companies joined.
After 2 occurrences of what I felt was solicitation and after having sent DM to both companies
— I removed the “vendors’ from our group and posted this:
Gentle Reminder.   #NOTATISTE14 is not a venue where “vendors” are welcome to solicit members — either in chats or in back-channel conversations.   If you wish to share MORE about your product, please do so ONCE by commenting to our twitter account (   Today, I have had to ban 2 people from our group for solicitingI Please respect the members of this group who joined the group to learn and share about #ISTE2014 from afar.   THANK YOU, Jennifer
We have not had any problems since.
#3 — I kept an eye on ideas that sprouted up.
Though I really wished people to fly with ideas, this NOTATISTE14 did have my name attached to it…..and if need be, I was ready to step up and say “WHOA” if necessary.   Thankfully, that has not happened.

Step Eight
Do Your Best To Recognize Your Community
It has been hard to say “Good job” to everyone.  People are making badges, ribbons, writing blog posts, sharing links and pictures.   So try to acknowledge them as you can.    If #ISTE14 was going a bit longer, I would have recruited a “hospitality team” to really make each member feel a part.  We are posting blog links written by members on our twitter feed but I wish we had a better way of showing off badges, selfie pictures, and more!

Step Nine
Don’t Be the Expert
I cannot begin to list all the new opportunities that have come from this #NOTATISTE14 group — people are throwing ideas all over the place and some I pick up — some I don’t.   Some others pick up — some others discard.   There are some many opportunities to learn that even if you only participated for 1 hour – you will learn something.
Let others shine in what they know how to do!  and take the time to learn something new!!

Step Ten
Be appreciative!
Say thank you often!
Smile much and clap for joy at something that surprises you, captivates you, inspired you, etc
People flourish when they are recognized for their contributions!

Step Eleven:  
Don’t be shy in asking for door prizes!
Since we had a challenge, I started asking around to companies I had established relationships with — Tech4Learning, iPeveo — to donate — which they did….and then with help from many people in our community — many more door prizes came in.
So far our list includes:
Spelling City
TechSmith EDU
So, don’t be afraid to ask — many many companies wish to help educators out!!!

Hope this helps!






Not At Iste 14

It all started on Sunday, June 15th…..sitting around, beginning to get a bit “misty-eyed” seeing all the tweets about “getting ready for ISTE……

and I thought back to last year, when my buddy Dennis Grice hosted the #NOTATISTE13 group — and I thought “well, since Dennis will BE AT ISTE this year, maybe I should continue what he started.”

So, without really much thought — I created a google form where people could join the group — posted it to twitter and expected maybe 20 people or so to join.

RIGHT NOW — we are at 266!
and what an interesting few weeks it has been since that first “google form.”

Our community on Google Plus became very active and our #NOTATISTE14 hashtag was beginning to fill-up my twitter page —

so, I also then created a twitter @notatiste account (so my @jenwagner friends would not get bombarded with #NOTATISTE14 overflowing of tweets)


With the help of Vicky Sedgwick, badges for the conference were created and then ribbons began to appear.


A Voxer group began (but I cannot seem to get Voxer to work so someone else can tell that story).

We also had a #NOTATISTE14 challenge – and a Google Presentation to introduce yourself to others – .

Pictures began to appear of where we were when we were #NOTATISTE14.  Links of family, friends, and events began to appear as well.

And our community began to grow — not only though in numbers — but in friendship and comradery.

We all are learning new things – pushing each other with new opportunities — and sharing sharing sharing.

We have 2 more days of #NOTATISTE14 — so right now, the snowball of opportunities has just begun.

And  because of #NOTATISTE14 — I also got to see this:  (3 of my favorite people in 1 picture)


I have no idea WHAT will happen in the next 48 hours — but so far, I am just jumping with joy!!

THANK YOU all for your enthusiasm.
This has been great fun!