ISTE is basically the largest concentration of nerdy educators (or wannabe nerdy ones) I have ever seen. Sessions are held all day long; special interest group meetings stretch late into the night; and free bowling offers time to make friends (shoutout to the Young Educators Network!). Since I don't want to bore you with small details, here are the basic take-aways for me, in no particular order:
1) There are people in tech companies that do care about helping you and your students. I met some great folks at various different companies that really wanted to help me, the teacher, work out something with their hardware/software that would improve my student's learning. Some companies even brought teachers to explain their first-hand experience (shoutout to Microsoft who brought me to ISTE to do just that).
2) There is a lot you can do with very little money. Aside from the idea I have shared already about bringing Chromebooks into my classroom next year (which I got some time to play with), there are plenty low-cost or free tech solutions for the classroom. Note-taking programs, organizer programs, engraved hardware specific to your school, etc. It is giving me hope that one person like myself can really get some tech out there for my students to use and learn from.
3) People are more important thing things. This one is a little obvious, but as I walked the magnificent halls of the newly-expanded halls of the PA Convention Center I met so many great educators who want help for their students just like I do. I chatted with superintendents, IT professionals, teachers, bloggers, and more. I often find the concept of "networking" to be a bit forced and for of an "It" type relationship (shoutout to Martin Buber!) so when I discovered that when I talked with these people I seemed to be forging friendships, it was amazing!
Basically, I had a great time working, learning, and meeting people from all over the world the past few days. I hope to mimic this experience next year at the NCTM conference hosted in Philly and maybe even at the ISTE conference in San Diego.