Friday, July 1, 2011

The ALA/ISTE Marathon

I am now two days and 20 hours of sleep removed from the ALA/ISTE marathon; I am, for the record, still tired. I have mostly unpacked but still have piles (literal and electronic) of notes and information to go through and follow up on.

I'll be writing more here as I do that, but I wanted to give a snapshot as my thoughts take shape. The conference experience was amazing, but also overwhelming, and frustrating in some ways.

Doing two conferences back-to-back is exhausting, both physically and cognitively. Well, technically ALA and ISTE aren't back-to-back--they overlap significantly, which means you can't really do both. I ended up missing several things I wanted to see at both conferences. And while I'll be able to catch up on some of those things online, that's not really the point--if I just wanted to catch up online, I wouldn't go to the conferences.

Some of the things I missed weren't entirely my fault; there were two sessions I really wanted to see scheduled at 8:00 Sunday morning--the same time as AASL's Affiliate Assembly, which I had to be at as a representative for CASL. To have three sessions for school librarians all at the exact same time--particularly when there aren't a lot of sessions for school librarians--seemed like really poor planning, and was very frustrating. I want to become more actively involved in leadership at ALA, but I also want to be able to get something back from my professional organization. I think it's reasonable to want to do more at conferences than go to committee meetings.

My approach to ISTE was a lot different than last year, when I ran around like a crazy person trying to see everything. After one day at the conference I was feeling kind of fried, and knew that my ability to absorb information was maxed out. So I made a not-entirely-conscious shift in my approach to the conference. I found myself focusing less on the "what" (new ideas), a little on the "how" (ways to implement ideas I've been playing with) and far more on the "why" (as in why I do what I do).

The "why," for me, is what conferences are really about. I can (and do) find a lot of information about what and how all the time, but I go to conferences to connect with people and to get a little philosophical TLC--to be recharged by sharing a space with thousands of other people who are excited about the same ideas I'm excited about.

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