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What Does ASTE Mean To You?

Well another ASTE has come and gone. If my count is correct, this is my 7th. I remember my first trip out when I was a teacher back in Togiak, AK. I was stir-crazy and aching for a restaurant dinner, a movie on the big screen, and a trip to the mall to just mingle with the faceless crowd. I was eager to help out around the conference and asked my coworkers for a chance to meet all the brilliant minds that put ASTE 2007 together. I ran around plugging in projectors and extension cords every morning and collecting them every afternoon. I mingled with people I considered to be celebrities, shared my successes and challenges with educators from around the state, and solidified my decision to become a life-long Alaskan. The Alaska Society for Technology in Education became a lighthouse for my career. It guided me through challenging times as a teacher, taught me the skills I needed to become a technologist, and gave me a focused goal. I wanted to embody the ideals of ASTE in all that I did. I worked tirelessly to gain new insights about educational technology and infused it in all of my lessons.

The conference was the highlight of my year every year. I knew if I could make it through to Christmas I would survive. Then I poured my soul into the second semester and held nothing back until that wonderful long weekend 2 months later… ASTE was the network I needed to understand my job and my worth. It was a professional development mecca with experts congregating to discuss anything my heart desired! After a few years of attendance as an educator, I then experienced ASTE as a vendor. I was a consultant for a local technology firm and presented several sessions over the course of the busiest 4 days of the year.

Once again joining the public world, I attended ASTE 2012 and 2013 as the Educational Technology Coordinator at LYSD. It was wonderful to feel the warmth and camaraderie of fellow educators once again. I locked arms in the journey that is educational technology and allied myself with the brightest minds in our great state!

This year I worked ASTE for the first time. I was proud to be a part of what I consider to be the best ASTE yet! Never before have I seen such a purely educational, nature-focused, and synergetic conference. It was inspiring to say the least! When I debrief team members back home in my district office, they inevitably ask the question, “This is a technology conference?!”

Yes, yes it was.

Here are some highlights of my experience from the inside of ASTE 2014: Nature, Technology, and Learning.

 Meetings

Our state is unique in many ways, but one particular facet I am especially proud of it our Commissioner of Education. Commissioner Hanley is a dynamic, approachable, and energetic as a leader and thoroughly inspiring as a speaker. His vision for education in the state is clear and his experience in the classroom and as an administrator is evident in his direction. I was lucky enough to sit down and talk to Commissioner Hanley about ASTE, the DEED, and his plans for the next 12 months. He expressed his dedication to ASTE as an organization, our alignment to many of his goals, and possible invites to Juneau/policy meetings for a member of ASTE.

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Our Board meetings are always entertaining and exciting as we share ideas and grow together professionally. One thing I appreciate very much about ASTE is the focus on teaching and learning. Professional development, and not vendors, drives our considerations for sessions. Sectionals, break-outs, and SIGs are defined over the years by our members. This long and proud history (predating the International Society for Technology in Education) of educationally minded leadership is what makes ASTE special to me.

Take Aways

“Students should be tired at the end of the day, not teachers” (Or administrators)

“Every teacher has an online presence, only sometimes are their students are in the room”
“Do less, better.”

Favorite Resource Discovered

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Now that I have shared my thoughts on ASTE, what are yours?

Comment below, connect with peers you met during the conference, and stay connected! I encourage those that love ASTE as much as I do to offer your volunteer support in 2015. There are numerous opportunities to serve Alaskan educators through the Alaska Society for Technology in Education.