I hadn’t been to an FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) conference in about 5 years. Back then I attended as a Media Specialist with funds to spend. I didn’t have any connections to Twitter. I didn’t know what it meant to be a connected educator. I now know I didn’t know much at all.
This time I approached the conference from an entirely different perspective. This time I went as someone with a PLN (Professional Learning Network). This time I went as a blogger. I went as a chat moderator. And for the first time ever, I went as a presenter. I cannot begin to explain the excitement I had as the time neared to head to this conference. There was a downside. This year FETC was during the first week of the new semester in my district. I had a brand new group of students that would start the term without me. I guess every silver lining must have it’s cloud.
Almost immediately upon arriving at the convention center, I was spotted by a member of my PLN. “Tammy!” could be heard from nearby. There was my fellow educator, Kristin Harrington (@KristinCHarr). She teaches in St. Augustine. We met on Twitter a while ago. We met face to face this past October at Edcamp Citrus. I love talking with Kristin. Her dedication to her students is amazing. Seeing her was just the tip of the iceberg.
Very quickly after seeing Kristin, I caught up with two other tremendous Florida educators. Dennis Dill (@DennisDill) and Celeste Clemons (@Celeste_Clemons). Seeing them was historic for me. You see, we co-moderate #FLedChat (The Florida Educators’ Chat) on Wednesday night. This was the first time we were all together. It was a family reunion.
I could go on and on about all the people I met. This conference was much more about the connections, the relationships than anything else for me. From the Tweet-Ups (both official and unofficial) and the sessions I attended, it was clear that the educators I met truly care for their students. I wish the news shows would promote this side of education. This is what everyone needs to see, educators coming together to help each other grow.
It didn’t stop there. The organizers of FETC worked with Carlos Fernandez (@Fernandezc4) to create MyFETC.org. This amazing site allowed us to make FETC what we needed. It was smooth. I could easily see which sessions were offered when. I could find presenters. I could find the vendors I wanted to find. I could also see the materials that the presenters uploaded for their sessions. Everything I needed in one location. I will return to this site often because everything FETC is there. Hats off to Carlos and his team.
I was pleased with the numbers I had in my session. Don’t get me wrong, the room wasn’t full. There were definitely empty seats. But those that were there asked questions and genuinely seemed to walk away with a better idea of what a PLN was about. Want to see the presentation slides? Here they are.
I can’t wait until next year.