You can tell by my expression that I truly admire Tracey Winey as an educator and as a person. I connected with her at one small-scale event (SMART Summit 2011) now her school hosts an amazing one (STEMsymposium.org).
I knew I wanted to write a blog post about the STEM Educator Symposium 2014 before it even started. Now nearly two-weeks after it has ended I wonder if I waited too long. Several people have already written excellent blogs about it (see below for links). I have reread them several times, gotten distracted numerously, tried to decide on MY theme for a STEM Symposium blog when my mind wandered yet again to, "What have been the best technology or education PD events for me?"
Answer: "Small-scale and several days."
ISTE and other large-scale conferences are invaluable and have their place but I find I get the most from an event when I make new long-lasting connections with other participants. That seems to happen best at events that are..."small-scale and several days". What do I mean by small-scale? Fifty or fewer participants.
Having a small cohort of people that you interact with over a period of several days allows you to form stronger connections. Not only do we learn from one another at the event but that learning continues indefinitely with the connections we make via social media or other connected online communities.
We share education ideas, successes, failures and hopes but, we also share ourselves.; personal stories., interesting events in our lives, frustrations, life-challenges, joy and silly stuff.
I guess that old saying is as true for teachers as it is for students, "You have to reach them before you can teach them." Which I interpret to mean, you have to connect as human beings to have the best exchange of knowledge and ideas.