By Tuesday, I seemed to have stopped blogging. I think I was overwhelmed by the number of people and the whole experience. I started Tuesday morning with a headache that showed signs of a migraine. Luckily, I brought medicine for that very purpose and only missed the keynote. I showed up 35 minutes early for Stephanie Sandifer's session, Marzano and Web 2.0: Ed Tech That Works, and was disappointed to find it was already closed. (This was not my first experience with a closed session, but I really wanted to hear this one!) I made my way to the Blogger's Cafe and ended up having a fabulous conversation with Kevin Honeycutt. I learned a lot from this man! I have some great ideas I am going to use and he was very encouraging. I am glad Stephanie put up her Ning page and wiki. I am going through them this weekend.
I did get into a couple of other sessions in the afternoon and then scolded myself for not doing better research beforehand. They were not what I was expecting and I simply didn't learn anything new from them. I will try to do a better job next time.
Wednesday morning, I went to two quick sessions before I had to get into my car for a 10 1/2 hour drive to Kansas. Again, I am not sure I took away much from either session, but I did get to visit with some people I sat with and that is always great.
I was really looking forward to Washington DC next year and then a conversation online made me rethink that. Scott McLeod posted about whether FB (Famous Bloggers) had an obligation to NYFB (Not Yet Famous Bloggers) and LR (Loyal Readers). As a NYFB, I could see his point, but as I was following conversations in his blog, Christian Long's blog, and on Twitter, I started worrying that I had offended someone by introducing myself. I had to think through it long and hard. Everyone I spoke to seemed really nice. I had a number of awesome conversations. I didn't introduce myself because I was starstruck, but because I really admire what they do and hoped to learn more from them. While in the Bloggers' Cafe, there were a couple of FB that did not appear to want conversation, so I stayed away, honoring their personal space. The conversations that occurred online really took me by surprise. I could have gained much information from the conference online, but the face-to-face connections are what really matters to me. I spent much of my drive back to South Dakota wondering if I even should go next year. In the end, I am still going to try to get to DC. I may revise my thinking a bit and make appointments with people I would like to get to know in a face-to-face meeting, but I know how outgoing I am and that I would probably still introduce myself to someone next year if I think there is an opportunity to learn.
Thinking back to last year's conference, I came back very excited and wanting to try all kinds of new things. I regret much of that didn't happen this last year. Learning two new content areas was fairly overwhelming and the death of both of my parents pretty much knocked the wind out of me. I feel better about what I teach and am again excited and ready to go. I have some time to work on lessons. I like that NECC is early enough in the summer to give me that opportunity.
All in all, I had a great time. I got to meet and spend time with Heather and Glynn. I got to meet a number of other people and am thrilled to have real faces to go with their online presence. I rediscovered the enthusiasm I had for using those 21st century tools. And San Antonio is a really cool place!
My deepest appreciation to those that challenged my thinking and helped me to grow! And an even bigger thanks to those of you that were willing to talk to a NYFB.