June 29, 2012

Updated! Courage to Be Real - ISTE12 Reflections

I boarded my connection from Las Vegas to San Diego and waited to see who would take the middle seat.  Fortunately for me, the woman who sat down next to me, Miriam, struck up conversation.  After a few minutes of conversation we realized that we lived in neighboring cities in Indiana.  Our conversation continued and I discovered that this was no ordinary woman.  Miriam loved school when she was young and had wanted to go to college but put aside her aspirations for marriage and raising her 3 sons.  With a twinkle in her eye, she told me her story of receiving her Bachelors degree at age 65 and how much she had desired her own cap-and-gown moment.  Now at age 73, she wants to get a Masters degree, perhaps in Hebrew because it's something she has never studied.  Miriam is leaving her job soon to become a full time caregiver for her husband and she was adamant about needing to keep her mind engaged.  "My mind is as hungry as my body has ever been," she said, ever so poignantly.

That statement resonated with me in many ways.  At present I resemble Miriam's remark as I am intentional in my professional learning and growth, an information omnivore at times.  But I was struck by this statement and was in awe of this woman next to me who was a voracious learner.  I can only hope to have her hunger for knowledge and connection when I am 73.  We talked at length about how much we both love technology and our devices, so I encouraged her to start a blog and share her amazing story.   She laughed and said I was probably the 45th person who had encouraged her to blog. Then Miriam looked at me and quietly said that she had written a book once, it was titled, The Courage to Be Real.  I told her it was the perfect title for her blog.

My ISTE experience began with an inspiring and meaningful conversation that formed a new friendship.  I walked off the plane in San Diego feeling confident that I would make the most out of ISTE.  Miriam gave me that extra push, the courage to be real, to be open to the unknown experience that was before me.  I met so many friendly, charismatic, welcoming, talented people and shared amazing experiences and stories with them.  My new learning is tremendous and will have lasting impact on my professional practice.  Presenting my poster station about student blogging was exhilarating and satisfying to engage in professional and pedagogical conversation.  ISTE was a place where we all spoke the same language and were passionate and enthusiastic about the same things.  I loved the energy each morning as a new day of eager learning began.

As I waited for the airport parking shuttle at 2:30am this morning, a gentleman and I were discussing our flight's hour wait on the tarmac when we realized we had both attended ISTE.  Our mutual excitement led to yet another meaningful conversation.  My ISTE experience is wrapped in a tapestry of remarkable conversations held on common ground and in unexpected ways.

I am leaving ISTE with a remarkable PLN who are all so truly supportive and inspiring, and taking with me a deep appreciation for the courage to be real.  I am so grateful for having connected with Tracy Watanabe, Joan Young, Jerry Blumengarten, Rurik Nakerud, Jena Sherry, Paula Naugle, Lisa Sjogren, Heidi Ellis, Matt and Dan at Kidblog, Angela Seits, and Caroline Haebig.  I can't wait to see you all again at #ISTE13!

Miriam and I have a lunch date planned and we'll be setting up her new blog.


UPDATE - 7/18/12

Miriam and I had a wonderful lunch date back home again in Indiana.  It is just delightful getting to know this remarkable woman even better.  As it turns out, we have a lot in common, like being total hams in front of large audiences.  We met up again this morning and Miriam took a big leap as we set up her new blog, Miriam's Musings.  It was very exciting to get an email from her later this afternoon sharing that her first post was published.  In my humble opinion, her first post is a courageous introduction to the blogosphere.  I can't wait to read more!


  1. It was so wonderful to meet you at ISTE, Sara! Your post brought tears to my eyes as you shared Miriam's story. Beautiful moments of connection will be what sticks in my mind as I recall the time in San Diego with friends both new and old. We had fun on our #temt walk, didn't we! Thanks for a wonderful post!

  2. Hi Sara,

    It was such a joy to meet you at ISTE... and fabulous to keep bumping into you throughout the entire event!

    Courage to be Real would be a fabulous blog title. Thank you for sharing Miriam's story with us! Your following up with her to help her start her blog is a testimony to your genuineness, passion, and generosity. Please come back and share the URL with all of us!

    Kind regards,