By CUE Member Jennifer Kloczko
I absolutely love the holidays. All of it. Every year we head up to Truckee and cut down a tree and it is one of my favorite things we do each year. Last year, my husband and I went with my parents and for the first time, no kids. I took my iPod touch with me and recorded the tree falling and the sounds of the birds in the forest I uploaded it to YouTube as soon as I got home. I also love reading cooking magazines and getting ideas for the dishes my mom and I will cook together. I love the music, the cinnamon scented candles, and the lights. I love seeing my family and connecting with friends. It’s not about the presents. Really, just get me some lip gloss and a bottle of wine and I am a happy girl! I love the holidays because of the whole experience of it and how happy it makes me feel.
That’s why Fall CUE Conference is like Christmas. If you asked me to tell you the best thing about the conference, I couldn’t tell you. It’s all of it. It’s about arriving a day early and going out to dinner with friends and people you just met in Healdsburg at the Bear Republic Brewery. It’s about the Jalapeno Tower Burger with cream cheese and the outdoor heater and the amazing Ahi tacos at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena that went perfectly with the sweet potato chili-cheese fries. It’s about the conversation over pretzels and the ‘80’s music on the way back to the hotel. It’s the anticipation of the first day of the conference and changing your mind every time you look at the session schedule because there is so much awesomeness to choose from.
Fall CUE Conference is like Christmas because every session has the potential to be as magical as opening a gift on Christmas morning. Where a session on math iPad apps with @skolhatkar can give you the chills and move you. Where you feel like a kid exploring the world of Minecraft even though you’re not very good at building and keep accidentally digging holes. When you listen to Ramsay Musallam’s @ramusallam keynote and you can’t wait to watch it again because there were so many things in it that I want to remember and share. It’s adding a #hashtag in your conversation and laughing even though it’s silly by now. #overkill
Fall CUE Conference is like the holidays because we get to connect with others, to laugh, and talk and be social. It’s tweets like this by Teresa @bcoeedtech that made my day. What she doesn’t know is that I get my energy from the room! As tired as I was by the end of day 2, I was also energized and inspired with everything I saw and learned and shared. When I go to a conference, I want to experience it all. I arrive early and stay late and don’t want to miss a thing. I am sad for those who left early Friday and missed an amazing opening keynote. It’s true that you might get to the hotel earlier or miss the dinner rush, but you might also miss that thing that touches your soul. You might miss something that challenges your thinking or motivates you to try something you never thought you would.
Fall CUE Conference is like the holidays because of the conversation. But it’s not just conversation over the dinner table. It’s the conversation that’s happening in the session about creating Makerspaces. It’s about the backchannel conversation on TodaysMeet that allows 50 participants to talk and share and listen while learning at the same time. It’s the conversation on Twitter that lets me know what’s inspiring others who are not in the same room as me, and allows people like my friend Poppi to be inspired from home. It’s the conversation in collaborative notes so you can feel like you were in every session. And, yes, it’s about the hashtags- especially #fallcue which is still continuing the conversation even when the conference is over.
My approach to Fall CUE Conference was very different than holiday shopping, where you arrive with a list of things you are looking for. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, or to master anything. I know enough about Minecraft to know I have so much more to learn! My list was simple.
Be inspired. Connect with people. Have fun.
And I did! I can’t wait for the Annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs in March! It’s just like Christmas– I’m counting the days!
Jennifer Kloczko is a first-year elementary principal at Natomas Charter School in Sacramento who has spent the last 16 years teaching and learning with amazing students and teachers in Northern California. She is also an Area 3 Writing Project Teacher Consultant and leads K-12 professional development in both literacy and technology. She had the honor of presenting at CUE Rockstar Tahoe this past summer and most recently 2013 Fall CUE. She is passionate about technology and the power it has to connect us– to other classrooms, to authors, and to the world. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys reading, hiking, and playing with her crazy puppy Lola. Jennifer blogs at Learn. Lead. Sparkle. or follow her on Twitter at @jkloczko.