We’re just 13 days out from ISTE 2018 here in Chicago. If you’ve been to ISTE before, you know that these few days can be quite a whirlwind. Even if you’re just attending the conference (as opposed to exhibiting), you could find yourself overwhelmed and exhausted if you’re not prepared. I know, because that has happened to me in the past.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some tips on how best to prepare for ISTE, and how to eliminate (or at least minimize) all the little inconveniences that could slow you down.
1. Drink lots of water, and bring a refillable water bottle.
This is one of the most underrated keys to a successful ISTE experience. Dehydration “lowers your blood volume, so your heart must work harder to pump the reduced amount of blood and get enough oxygen to your cells, which makes everyday activities like walking up stairs–as well as exercise–more difficult.” That being said, water is not cheap at these conferences. Be sure to bring your favorite water bottle from home to refill throughout the show.
2. Bring a portable cell phone power bank.
Conferences are all about the people you meet and the endless learning opportunities. You DO NOT want to waste any time looking for outlets or sitting in the back of a session just because there’s a power strip within striking distance. Buying a cell phone power bank will be the best $33 investment you ever make. I recommend this one from Anker. It’s small, light, and will charge an iPhone five times or an Android three times on a full charge. Don’t forget to plug it in when you get back to the hotel every night and you’ll be rockin’ ISTE like a seasoned vet.
3. Have business cards handy.
Okay, I personally don’t love business cards, but they’re still relevant in 2018, and will help you ensure that the connections you make can continue beyond the conference. They’ll come in handy for those times you meet interesting educators who don’t have a Twitter account.
4. Get your Twitter gameplan ready.
Speaking of Twitter, if you have an account, awesome! If not, now’s a great time to create an account and learn the basics before you get to ISTE. Here’s a great article/podcast about Twitter from one of my favorite people to follow, Jennifer Gonzales (@cultofpedagogy). For ISTE specifically, stay tuned into the hashtag #ISTE2018 to stay up-to-date on what’s happening, and join the conversation yourself.
5. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
You will undoubtedly set all-time records on your fitness tracker during ISTE 2018. In addition to running from session to session, Chicago is a very walkable city. Bring your comfy shoes and, to that end, clothes to match. Conferences are not a fashion show. You’re on a mission to connect with educators who will push your thinking and teaching forward. By all means, change out of your pajamas, but don’t worry about trying impress anyone with your attire.
6. Pack some headphones.
This is more of a general travel tip. Personally, I always carry a pair of headphones when I travel for everything from watching movies on the plane to talking on the phone without putting a kink in your neck. Throw some in your backpack and you’re good to go.
7. Bring some Antacid, Tylenol and Emergen-C.
During a four year stint as an education strategist, I flew a couple hundred thousand miles and been to ten lifetimes’ worth of conferences. Traveling typically means eating a lot rich foods, drinking adult beverages, and sleeping less than usual. You might not need them, but you’ll be thrilled if it turns out you do and Antacids, Tylenol and Emergen-C are in your bag.
8. Take some time to enjoy the city.
Obviously the conference is the hook for your visit, but if you have free time then you should definitely spend a day getting lost in Chicago. It’s too great of a city to not take advantage of during our trip here.
9. Clearly identify your goals.
There are two things I can tell you with absolute certainty. One, ISTE is oversaturated with the latest and greatest shiny new technology. Two, simply adding 21st century technology to 20th century teaching practices will only dilute the effectiveness of the teacher. When identifying your goals for ISTE 2018, be strategic in the sessions you attend. Don’t just go and learn about “how” to use some new tool. Also pick sessions that challenge your beliefs about instruction, assessment, and grading.
10. Have a plan to execute.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Once you have an idea what you want to get out of ISTE, develop a plan to accomplish it. It’s totally worth your time to dig through the conference schedule and plan out which sessions you’re going to attend. The ISTE app is fantastic for picking your sessions in advance and it allows you to make a custom schedule to meet your needs.
Follow these guidelines, and you’ll set yourself up for a great ISTE. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me. (I love Twitter if you haven’t picked up on that.) Otherwise, I’ll see you at ISTE! And stay tuned for info on ISTE 2019!