Gearing Up For #ISTE19 Ten Helpful Hints to Make Your ISTE19 a Success!

So we leave for ISTE 19 in only four days from today and I kind of feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas to come.  I might even make one of those paper ring things that kids make to countdown to Christmas.  The ISTE conference is where I go to find “my people, my tribe.” Finally, I have found people that understand the impact of technology but only if it is done correctly.  The teacher is still the most important part of the teaching process, but technology can have a profound impact if used properly.

So I would like to share with you a few hints and tips that I have learned by attending the last three ISTE conferences (Denver, San Antonio, and Chicago).

  1. Dress casually. The nice thing about ISTE is that everyone is there to learn and it is not one of those leadership conferences where everyone is in a suit for the entire day.  Wear comfortable shoes, you will easily get in your 10,000 steps, probably before lunch.  Everything is big at ISTE, the convention center, the vendor hall, and you will be walking back and forth up and down all day.
  2. Bring Ways to Recharge Your Devices. If you are bringing a laptop, bring your power cord. If you are bringing your phone, iPad, tablet, etc you need to invest in a portable charger.  I usually need to recharge my phone at least once throughout the day.  I have the Anker Power Core and I also have a smaller power core as well that is credit card sized that I can carry in my pocket.  Also, do not be a power outlet hog! Usually open outlets are sometimes hard to find so I have the Monster Power Outlets To Go 4 which is a great little power strip. That way you can be plugged in and share the power strip with others. It is also a great way to start up a conversation with someone new.
  3. Print Off Mailing Address Labels. In your registration packet, there will be a book of raffle tickets for about 40-50 different vendors.  All of these ask for you to fill out your name, school/district name, your position, address, phone number, and email address.  So instead of writing this over and over and over again I just print out 60 mailing address labels with my information on it and then just peel and stick.  It saves SOOOOOOO much time and you don’t get hand cramps.
  4. Bring Business Cards (if you have them). Again trying to save time from people having to write down your information, just hand them a business card and be on your way.  There is so much to do and so little time!

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  5. Different Types of Sessions. My favorite part of the ISTE conference is the variety of sessions. You have your typical 45-minute sessions, but there is a whole world more. There are poster sessions, playgrounds, Ignite sessions, sessions in the hallways, sessions in the vendor hall, walk and talk sessions and social sessions.
  6. Go to the Poster Sessions. My favorite sessions are the poster sessions. Imagine a room set up for about 50 different sessions all with a little table, TV and a 4-foot by 8-foot bulletin board. The point of the two-hour poster sessions is for people to find and really get to talk with people about certain ideas and projects.  There is no specific presentation, just pictures on the bulletin board and the expert standing right in front of you to talk about what they have done.  I like this session much better than a regular sit and get session because you can interact with the expert and really get to the point.  It is also a great way to network and meet new people.  I have been able to lead a poster session for the past three years and will be again at #ISTE19 about how to use Virtual Reality to help close the achievement gap (Sunday from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm). So please attend the poster sessions and strike up a conversation!


  7. Attend the PLN Community Fair – ISTE has over 20 different PLNs (professional learning networks) and this is your time to join one or more of the PLNS.  Throughout the year the PLNs offer professional learning opportunities just for their PLN members, including webinars, book studies, Twitter chats, and more. Also if you are interested the PLNs are always looking for volunteers to sit on the PLN leadership teams. I will be manning the Technology Coordinators PLN booth this year as I am the incoming PLN president.  Stop by say hi and join our PLN.
  8. Make a Schedule. ISTE has a lot going on and if you are not prepared you will miss a lot and possibly miss out on a great session. The entire ISTE conference schedule is available online and the ISTE19 app is now available. My schedule is almost already packed every day from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm!
  9. Visit the Vendor Hall. Probably the most overwhelming part of the entire conference is the Vendor Hall. The vendor hall at ISTE is probably 10-15 times bigger than at our state edtech conference. The way I handle the vendor hall is to walk the entire vendor hall first, I don’t really talk to any vendors the first time through. As I am walking I note who I really want to talk with. Then later in the conference, I go back have those conversations with certain vendors. There is LOTS of swag, lots of freebies. Just be careful how much you get as you have to carry that around for the rest of the day and how do you get it home?


  10. Talk with Edu-Famous People. Another great part of ISTE is seeing all of the Edu-famous (my colleague Stephanie Howell shared that term with me) that you follow on Twitter, Instagram, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts and read their books. Go up and have a conversation with them, trust me they would love the company.  A few years ago at ISTE16 I was getting lunch and looking for a table and I saw Alice Keeler eating by herself. I asked if I could join her and I spent the next 30 minutes talking with Edu-famous Alice Keeler.  ISTE is all about networking and finding like-minded people from all over the world.

I can’t wait for Saturday to come and my EdTech Christmas to happen.  I hope that you all are joining us at ISTE19, please tweet, post, and pin all of your exciting finds with #ISTE19 and even for our friends that cannot join us at #NotatISTE19. I will be posting many time throughout my five days there including video posts from different areas from ISTE19.

If you want to hear more from us about making the most of your ISTE19, please listen to our podcast on Tech Connect EDU (on all major podcast platforms) as I am joined by my colleagues that are also attending ISTE19 Stephanie Howell and Jena Cooper.

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Links to ISTE 19 resources:

Here are all of my sessions I am a part of at ISTE19.



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