Every once in a while I step back and see the awesome opportunity of attending great conferences like #ISTE19. I know that the first few times I approached conference attendance differently than I do now. It isn’t enough to survive an ISTE conference, how do you thrive at an ISTE conference?

Thrive not Survive #ISTE19 #ISTE2019 #NotAtISTE

Thrive _ Not Survive #ISTE19

Although I have previously given you advice about coping with such a large conference experience {READ: How not to Suck at ISTE, & my annual Who To Follow for ISTE} the ISTE experience can be higher quality and lower activity.  The objective is to learn, not check off the longest list.  Educators encourage students to learn at their own pace and preparing for such a large event it is worth checking in with our inner-learner; “Are you ready to learn what you can and not be frustrated by what you did not get to learn?”


Before you leave, take time to browse the conference program and find what you really want to attend.  Don’t read the program as a first-timer, remember session titles are designed to be flashy, remember to sort by the presenter also in order to find those you already value {READ: How to Schedule a Conference}.   Familiarize yourself with the app, make all the downloads before you arive and have a flexible game plan in place {READ: Creating an ISTE Prep Course}.


Vendors are not so different than you, they just have a different job than you.  You will want to know the vendors you want to talk to ahead of time, but also be open to stopping and looking at new things and chatting with new vendors.

Remember that these people are experts in a tool in which you are interested.  Talk to them, learn from them, do not avoid them.  Ask about the roadmap for their product over the new year.  Let them tell you about new features and benefits you can enjoy as a user of their product.  Let them scan your badge; it helps them do their job and you can always unsubscribe later.  The people on the sales floor may also know about side-hustles for teachers at their #edtech company.  These can be people who may invite you to vendor parties during the conference as well.

Participants each have something to offer you, yes, that many people!  While you cannot talk to everyone remember to strike up conversations while on conference transportation and while sitting in sessions or in the various waiting areas outside the rooms during the conference.  Easy ways to start a conversation with other attendees are to ask what they have seen that they like, what they are planning to attend next, or if they have a charger you could borrow.  When you chat with someone you find to be a kindred spirit get their Twitter handle or email address; these connections can keep you learning well past conference attendance.


In large sessions, presenters may not always very accessible.  Make certain you know the presenter’s Twitter handle as a possible way to reach out and make your session somewhat interactive – especially if there is more than one presenter – panel sessions are great for this type of interaction.

The presenter is not the only person to learn from in a session.  Remember those in attendance are interested in this topic as well.  They may have more to share and be just as excited to talk to you about this.  Strike up conversations with those in the audience or waiting line to find out what they already know about the session topic.

Post Conference

Start thinking about how you will debrief with yourself about your learning on your last conference day.  Do you have a long commute home where you could process your thoughts?  Are you planning on a blog post? (If so, consider linking it in the comments of this post)  Will you talk with colleagues who attended?  Will you reach out and cement a network with anyone you met at the conference?


Here is to everyone going to #ISTE19 thriving over just surviving!
I hope you share what you know and learn from everyone from which you have a chance to learn!

Add your tips and tricks in the comments below please.