#IdeaCon is over, and I have time to sit back and think about what I gained from the conference experience. Being on the committee gave me little opportunity to sit in on presentations, but I was able to present two sessions. What is the biggest takeaway from the conference, you ask? The importance of connections.
Yes, a plethora of great information is shared and topics discussed, but ultimately, the connections matter. Meeting up with people you don’t see very often, those you have connected with online but not in person, or those who are brand new to you matters the most to me. I get so much from just being around people who care about education. Their contagious passion makes me want to be better at what I do.
It is easy to get into a bubble and only see the world through your lens or the lens of the people with whom you work. Connections at conferences allow you to see the world of education from other perspectives. These new perspectives can help you formulate a new path forward or help you appreciate what you have. For example, I have learned much about DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) by talking with educators about these topics. You can read all the books you want, but talking with others gives you the first-hand experience necessary for an accurate picture to emerge.
Connections are also a way to make and cultivate friendships. I know some think that online friendships aren’t real friendships. While I wholeheartedly disagree with this sentiment, it does help when you can continue the friendship in person. I spent so much conference time just catching up with “old” friends and working on new friendships. These are REAL relationships with people who have mutual respect for one another. We laugh, share our struggles, give advice, and sometimes cry, all of which constitute friendship.
I’ll leave you with two thoughts…
- Online relationships are genuine relationships.
- When presented with the opportunity to attend an in-person conference, take it. Don’t just attend; take the opportunity to connect with people.