“Voices Carry”

I still have an aversion to blogging. Fair warning, this one’s a tome and I will probably change the look four more times by tomorrow, but here goes:

So, I went to my first ever #ISTE conference held early this week in Philadelphia. I wanted to go with my first and second grade teacher friends to a literacy conference at a spa in Maine, with yoga every morning and an ocean view, but lo, I went to ISTE in Philadelphia by myself. 😀

Most of the people I follow on twitter are in education, but it widely varies. Community members, artists, musicians, mathematicians, random emo tweeters, people in the business community, politicians, economists, the over 2,000 people I follow is spread out over multiple accounts but gives numerical data to support something I am proud to say: I am listening.

I think I’ve almost gotten too good at listening sometimes to the point that I don’t share my own story or shine my own light enough. I think this is part of the reason why I am so motivated to sing the praises of Kindergarten and Early Childhood teachers out there everywhere. Teaching Young Children is really hard work! And what is old hand good practice for many are things higher ed is just discovering. Stuff like classroom design and organization, like how to manage self directed and individualized learning. Like “google time”, I mean play time (sorry google, PreSchool and Kindergarten did it first!) Like creativity, divergent thinking, fun, music, singing, using real life mathematical building tools each day, art, drama, literacy! Life! Love! Living! I mean, we teach people to read a language down here! In one year!

I think what I am talking about is being acknowledged and taken seriously. And the transformative power that it has had on me directly through my experiences with technology. 

One of the events I attended was the Strategic Ed Tech Leadership Panel with past Presidents of ISTE and various business leaders. The entire ISTE experience was something else- I met some amazing people and there’s much to say, but it basically boiled down to: tell your story, Voices Carry. So here is mine:

Once upon a time, way back in dinosaur times, there was this thing called friendster. A friend told me about it when we were talking on the telephone. I think it was even a cordless phone. See, you could be friends with your long-distance friends on the computer and not pay .10 cents a minute. They could write stuff on their page and you could see what they wrote and you could write stuff back! Like a notebook on the computer. I was only on there for a few months when I signed up for ….

Myspace! Oh, yes, the myspace! wooo! Party time! It was wonderful! There was “music in the air, her dress was cut down to there!” It was so much fun. Tom was everyone’s friend automatically, of course. Not only could you see other people’s pages, you could add your own decoration AND music AND blog! Everyone was re arranging friends and learning codes, discovering bands, friending and commenting. What an event! I started talking regularly online with people I hadn’t met yet, finding artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, random pages for Spam! Yes! Spam! the canned ham had a page as did Winston Churchill. I’d link you to them all, but they improved it so much I can’t find anything on there. They weren’t listening.

I guess this is when much of the guru blog craze was running wild as well. I wasn’t really into blogs then. I’m still not really, for whatever reason (because I can’t find stuff on here easily and have yet to master the medium). Or perhaps its a subtle rebellion. Bloggers can take themselves pretty seriously sometimes! (sorry! It just feels that way to me, especially today when myspace sold for $35 million and people who were never were on it comment or just have constant put downs- its pretty amazing to see the arrogance IMnotsoHO) Indeed, the “white flight” from myspace onto facebook provided more than one article on the subject and still gives me pause to this day.

Anyway, back to the story! Ok, well, I found myself in quite a pickle in 2006. I had been writing back and forth with someone, meeting up in person a few times, when that person said online wasn’t real life and just suddenly disappeared, breaking all contact. Needless to say I was totally heartbroken. Have you ever been on the playground and a kid will come up to you, hysterically crying because another kid runs away from them and won’t talk to them? My face still flushes to even write this, but that’s pretty much what happened.

So there I was on myspace. Alone and heartbroken. These are the dark ages now. But I started taking photos to get my page looking better. I started designing slideshows. Pretty soon I was coordinating slideshows to music, adding my poetry, it got really wild! And awesome if I don’t say so myself! Here’s the remnants now that its been defunct, its just the barebones of what it was.

I found a friend of a friend, who’s page I loved. I said hi. Her page was awesome. She had written a funny resume and was a super fine writer. She had an incredible selection of friends who were neat. We started chatting and became friends. She liked my slideshows, we talked about writing and boy did we write! She took me seriously. It was real life. I am forever grateful for her coming along at just that right time. I still tear up! Turned out she and her husband run a music studio up in NY. Voices carry! And she introduced me to twitter in 2008. Behold! Enlightenment!

Fast forward to #kinderchat and the amazing year I’ve had creating and building these connections between people working with young children. I have, in the course of one year built blogs, resource wikis, tweeted with classes from around the globe, created completely unique structures for weekly chats, networked like mad, invited experts to come and talk with teachers of Young Children from all over the place!  

We have had the privilege to meet, learn from and listen to some of the most wonderful, sweet, kind, funny, knowledgeablesmart, innovative, creative, understanding, reliable, resourceful and loving people on the planet!  We all take each other seriously! (ok, not too seriously! but you know what I mean! :D)  I had no idea what we were wading into when I said “we need to do this Amy!” Amy, who I’ve never met, Amy who lives in Calgary, who I found by reading her awesome blog, and who I can’t wait to meet in Orlando in November when we present our work at the @NAEYC National Convention and who I talk to on an almost daily basis in real life, but never face to face.

Present day! Ok, Last night 😀 I was invited to dinner with people from iEARNUSA. They found us on #kinderchat and have been a real source of encouragement. I tracked down (all I knew was his name was “Ed”) at the #ISTE11 International Networking Reception Monday night because I wanted to say hi and Thank them for all their encouragement. It sure can be lonely out there in the digital world! I was just about to give up looking for him when “pop!” there he was and he extended an invite to a dinner being held that next night.

And wow! Did I meet some wonderfully gifted, fun and interesting people at that table! Really, it was such a magical night for me I’m still reeling from and not sure what to do with it all! All that work was being taken seriously. It was a night I won’t ever forget and for which I am very grateful for.

The future is so murky and mysterious and wonderfully unknown. All these daydreams require so much work. My first job it seems, has been to tend to myself, and my own story. There’s no one right way to do things. I’ve learned to step out and find my own way and my own voice and I’m so excited to see what comes next.

Thanks all-

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Author: hechternacht

website here: https://sites.google.com/site/heidiechternacht/

7 thoughts on ““Voices Carry””

  1. I kept hoping we would meet at ISTE, but there were so many distractions… please consider helping us in our efforts to create a special interest group for Early Learning and Technologies… http://t.co/NJ0KUCL

    Keep up the good work… change takes time!

    Gail

    1. I didn’t realize you were there Gail! I totally would have tracked you down! There is so much going on there- very tricky multi-tasking! ah!
      Will take a look at the link! Thanks for all your support and encouragement! Cheers!

  2. You are so very very good at encouraging others to speak; it is so wonderful to hear you believe in the importance of your own story. I sometimes wish we had archived the exact conversation that led to #kinder chat… What a turning point moment for both of us. I am so vey glad and grateful that we found each other, and that we are in this amazing adventure together, my friend. Here’s to Orlando!

  3. You are so very very good at encouraging others to tell their stories; I am so glad you made it a priority to tell YOURS. I have often wished that we had archived the original conversation we had about #kinderchat — what a turning point moment for both of us. I am so very grateful that we found each other on the great big interwebs, my friend, and so glad we are in this together! Here’s to Orlando!

  4. Hi Heidi,

    Great to meet you in Philadelphia. The iEARN global network of educators and students is constantly being enhanced by participation by wonderfully committed people like you. This global community of people share the vision that teaching and learning can be enhanced when given technology and the chance to interact meaningfully in collaborative project-based learning. You’re clearly one of us!! We look forward to continued involvement.

    Ed

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