This was my second time at an ISTE (International society for technology in education, now say it five times very fast, GO!) conference and as usual it was an earth-shattering, overwhelming, and exhausting event. From the opening keynote about Gamification (Yes, we are now turning every classroom into one giant Kinect thingamajig) to the closing remarks by Adam Below, everything had a significant impact on my life as an educational technology coach. But, as opposed to last year where I went on my own, this year I was fortunate to be part of a remarkable group of individuals spanning the United States, brought together by none other the spectacular AVICHAI Organization.
I originally thought that the sole benefit of this cohort was free room and food (seriously!); I figured I’d do my thing at the conference, come to the hotel, eat some “airport food,” (No Kosher meat eateries anywhere!!!) and be on my merry way. I had no idea that this would be an experience I probably will never forget!
Every evening, after an exhausting day of workshops, sessions, and vendors marketing ploys (Yes, the chachkas are great, but seriously…), we were treated with a big smile by Jennifer Newfeld, who so graciously arranged all of our meals, and was one of our liaisons for Avichai throughout the trip (You were awesome Jennifer!). At each table you could hear each person’s excitement, sharing ideas, schmoozing with one another and trading business cards (yes, we’re at a tech conference and we are still using these.)Then the magic really began (cue Indiana Jones theme song); the famous Dr. Jones…Eliezer Jones closed the night by facilitating a great group talk reflecting about the (e)vents of that particular day.
Thanks to Mrs. Rachel Abrahams, a wonderful program which allowed me to connect with people from LA (My hometown BABY!) to New York and everything in between was done beautifully. From the first time we met in the unforgettable River room (San Antonio has this scary obsession with the word “River”), down to the last Minyan on Wednesday morning (yes you read that right, we had a Minyan, with a real Sefer Torah, every single day of the conference, Shachris, Minha and Mariv, first time ever!), I was able to build great relationships and excellent networks of like-minded Jewish educators whose sole purpose is to enhance the way we do Education in all Jewish Day Schools.