Last week at ISTE13, I received the Emerging Leader award, and was overwhelmed with congratulations and support. My takeaway from the conference was much deeper, though. As I was onstage about to receive my award, lots of folks tweeted at me:

I was expecting that. “Congrats!” “Well done!” “EduAwesome!” That’s just being polite, right?? No–it was so much more than that. As the conference went on, I found that I was edustoked every time someone’s presentation went well, or I saw an epic tweet giving someone props. It became more than simply congratulations, support, pride, or camaraderie. It hit me during Adam Bellow’s closing keynote when he said,

You are only as valuable as the people you are connected to.

As I saw him on stage, it was more than just, “Hey, I know that guy!” It was a shared victory–Adam was up there killing it, and we were up there with him, sometimes literally:

Social media has fundamentally changed the way we connect as educators. Yes, it’s great to attend sessions and present sessions, but ISTE was so much more than just that. It was about sharing a common victory. We’re changing the world together. Every conversation, every presentation, and even Adam’s keynote was an #eduwin for us all. And suddenly my award became about more than just me. Now I just need to figure out how to add the names of everyone from my PLN to the plaque.

This was like being bitten by a zombie–you can’t help but be transformed by the experience. In the case of ISTE13, I thank each of you for making me a better EduZombie. We share each other’s victories, and we, and our students, are better as a result.


  • eduTecher

    Thanks for sharing this Bill – You were all up there with me – I am so glad that message was received! Thanks again!

  • I was thinking about the words that you quoted from Adam’s keynote (the words that you have been evangelizing for quite some time now) and made a connection too. There is a scene in Wreck-It-Ralph where King Candy goes into his special place in the virtual world and disconnects Vanellope from all of the connections she has with everyone and everything else! As a result nobody knows the real her, and as a result she doesn’t know her true self either!
    This is really how I feel as a connected educator! If you were to go and remove all of my connections now, I wouldn’t know what to do! These connections have become so empowering and have broadened my perspective to a degree that I would be utterly lost without them.

  • John Spencer

    I love how positive you are at ISTE. I find myself getting overwhelmed in the crowd sometimes, but you have the uncanny ability to be positive and to be present with individual people in a powerful way. I have a hunch that makes you a great teacher.

  • Thanks, Adam. It was amazing how much camaraderie there was throughout ISTE, especially during your keynote. Connectness really is everything.

  • I love that analogy. Thanks to you, I added Wreck-It-Ralph to the top of my Netflix queue. ;)

  • Thank you John! It was great getting to hang out with you in real life. It’s easy to be positive around amazing educators. Hanging out with folks at ISTE taked EduStoked to a whole new level.

  • Jo-Ann Fox

    Teachers are inherently social people so it is natural that those who want to connect and learn from each other have found social media to be a place of comradery. So glad you were honored at ISTE as you have inspired so many educators with your positive tweets! Congrats, my friend. So glad you are a part of my PLN!

  • Thank you, Jo-Ann! It’s amazing how PLNs are the foundation of my teaching. It’s always nice to hang out with those folks in real life.