The Most Powerful Lesson From #MIEExpert15 US Forum at #ISTE2015

Pay It Forward

One of my items still sitting on my education bucket list is to attend an ISTE conference. I was so close this year being able to fly out to Philadelphia  for a few days before the conference kicked off. To make a long story short I thought I had things lined up to be at ISTE, but due to some scheduling conflicts it just did not pan out. However, I had an amazing two days being with my fellow Microsoft Innovative Experts and learning a valuable lesson.

This lesson that I learned goes beyond any education app, technology tool, curriculum tip, software, hardware, lesson planning, pedagogy, or anything else that comes around the field of education. What I learned from some of the most wonderful, powerful, game changing people and educators while at the US Forum is something that has really hit me deep inside my own heart and mind.

This is it! Seriously.

Paying it forward is nothing new. This is not a new paradigm shift in education. However, many times I feel like when people share, pay it forward, help you out, then you feel like you must pay them back somehow. Whether that is intentional or not I often feel like people help with the mindset that they will need something from you later down the line.

This was not the case. In my short 40 hours in Philadelphia this idea of sharing, connecting, and helping happened to me several times. It happened and I was moved. I was moved on an emotional level. I was moved on an educational level. I was moved in spirit.

The reason these were so powerful was that it is just who these people are. They don’t even realize the greatness they were spreading. They don’t realize the impact they had on me. They don’t realize it because it is just who they are as people. That is what makes it all so powerful.

I would like to give a public thank you to these people. I know that these people would never take credit. They would never ask for recognition. They probably don’t even realize what impact they had on me.

I have made it a personal goal to be one of these people. I want to be someone that helps where it just happens without thought. I would like to think that I do help others, but I want to up my game a bit. I want to continue to pay it forward and have been really thinking hard on beginning steps. Like anything you have to be deliberate to build habit. The goal is to just make it a habit.

In no order here are the people who I want to say thank you…

Stacey Ryan – I met Stacey at the E2 Conference a few months back. She has an energy that just permeates a room. Every single time I talk to her she is all smiles. Stacey helps people like me to connect with others. I am not always the best in a room full of people just starting up conversation. What a person like Stacey does is introduces people like me to others. She is a connector. She knows how to bring people together. She allowed me the chance to talk with some amazing educators and share some ideas. Because of her I developed new connections and some possibilities for future projects. Not only that but we have been developing some projects together where math will be included which unfortunately does not happen as often as it should. Besides her ability to help others connect she has a mind for projects in the classroom that are so good. I am really pumped up to be working with her on some projects this year.

Becky Keene – I met Becky also at E2. Becky I don’t know her as much, but I am amazed at what she gets accomplished. She is a game changer in education to say the least. The reason I want to thank her is due to the fact that her generosity goes above and beyond most people. A few months back she was developing a makerspace workshop. I had contacted her asking some questions and not only did she answer, but she provided me literally everything she had created. There was a ton of work put into her workshop for teachers. I was moved by her kindness. The same thing again while at ISTE. I had to fly home but I saw a session with Minecraft and tweeted about it and there she was again sharing all the resources and helping me stay connected while not being there physically. As I thanked her she thought nothing of what she was doing and this is what makes her so amazing. It was genuine and she was just doing her part.

Todd Beard – I am always pumped to connect with Todd. He is his own beast and I mean that with the greatest respect and admiration. I also met Todd at E2. The best thing about Todd is that he shares. Todd has done so many cool things and he openly lets you know how to do it all. Not only that but we have had some really great conversations while staying up late after a long day of learning and talking. We had a great chat discussing website design. At 1 am we are scouring websites and discussing how to do this, how to do that, why we should clean this up, etc. I consider him a friend and despite only connecting in person twice we just pick up where we left off. I have learned a great deal about robotics, engineering, being an ambassador for kids and education, and once again the trait of just sharing.

Jennifer Mitchell – Another kick butt educator who is spreading the powerful ways of teaching to all parts of the world. She just makes it happen. One minute I am talking with her and the next minute she is helping me connect with other educators. She is one of those people where you don’t always realize what she has done until she has moved on to the next great cause on her list. I love talking with her and just finding out what she is up to. I thank her for the connections she helped me develop while in Philly. More respect for her than she realizes!

Robyn Hrivnatz – Our fearless US MIE leader. Robyn has a way to make you feel right at home. She is never rattled. No matter how many times she is bombarded by requests she just rolls with the punches. She too is a giver always helping me when I have questions, ideas, and just regular inquiry. Working to keep the calmness amidst the hustle and bustle is something that I want to continue to work on. I know that she probably does not always feel that way inside, but her presence puts people at ease and she just makes things happen.

Sandi Adams – Sandi is another rockstar that I met through MIE and E2. I reached out to her about something she has developed. It was actually something I have been toying around with myself and so I asked her about it. We connected and she just poured it on me letting me know how it all worked out for her. The beauty of this was it gave me a perspective about how to go about my idea and develop it to make it work for my school. Because of our conversation I have moved my idea from being a thought into action. Meetings have been setup and I am hard at work bringing the idea to life. Her passion and excitement motivated me to find a way to get the idea out of hibernation mode. Without our chat my idea would still be sitting in my head. Sandi has this energy about her that just pumps you up for making great things happen in education.

Ginger Lewman – One of my education heroes. I did not meet her at MIE/E2, but I have to mention her. I met Ginger about 4-5 years ago at a NAGC conference. One small conversation lead to a multi-hour chat that has lead to a great friendship. She is one of the most honest and real educators I know. She is the one I go to when I need real talk. She gives it to me straight. We don’t always agree but because we have a deep respect for one another it is never personal. This is a rare trait and rare condition in education. Many are afraid to have real conversations due to possibly hurting the feelings of others. Not only this, but she has helped me connect with educators that I did not even know existed. She brings people together and that is once again a very powerful trait. I have learned more from her than anyone else in education and that is a strong statement!


Obviously, this is a short list. So many more have helped me along the way and will continue to help. These people all had a positive impact on me in some powerful way in just the short amount of time we had together. This is what education is about. It is about sharing. It is about relationships and helping one another be better by just being good people. A blog post is not enough to say thank you, but it is a start to remind me to continue to help others and spread the message of paying it forward. Thank you.

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One thought on “The Most Powerful Lesson From #MIEExpert15 US Forum at #ISTE2015

  1. So, I have finally come out of the woods, where I had a thread of an internet connection comparable to dial up and could barely read anything!
    First, thank you so much for your kind words. Honestly, I was reading your blog and in my head saying oh yes as I read about Stacey and Amen, as I read about Becky and Robyn and then BOOM.
    You have to realize you are exactly this kind of person. I love how your blog and how it is so real and transparent and you share everything! (Seriously, your Surface video’s helped me so much!) Anyway, what a blessing it is to have been connected through a common passion…STUDENTS! Looking forward to future collaboration!!