Tuesday I read a post by Mary Beth HertzIs ISTE Still Relevant for Young Educators? I quickly sent the post of to a few of my colleagues and told them to read this post- because Mary Beth hit the nail dead on. There has been a lot of talk about the Young Educator and the ISTE conference, including Julie LaChance's Post Young Educators Rock Denver. And I started to think about my own experiences with ISTE.

My first conference was NECC 2006 in San Diego. When my boss and I had learned about the conference, it was abundantly clear that this conference was cost prohibitive for our small Catholic school. However at that time I was a full-time student, my conference fee was $90 and we decided to 'try it out'.

And in the years since my first conference The Bank of Sjogren has had to pay for parts of the conference. However, each year I come back with learning that was valued well over the cost of the registration, plane ride, and hotel stay. So in our books, it is worth it.

But as always after each conference my mind is swirling and after reading those two posts, I thought up this question:

What is the value of the Young Educator?

I heard once, "I am not going to do anything because I am young and no one cares what I have to say." In fact, that is about as far away from the truth as you can get. Last year, I was nominated to SIGilt's Board as their Communications Chair. Sure I had to prove myself... first by winning the election, publishing a newsletter to meet the masses and getting time-sensitive information out. That when I arrived on Saturday morning to the SIG Leadership meeting, I saw:

Lisa Sjogren
SIGilt and SIG Board Committee

Sure, I have gone beyond my initial role on SIGilt, but I knew that my contributions were worth it. That what I had done proved to some one on the ISTE Board of Directors, that my ideas were good. However, sitting in the meeting on Saturday it was apparent that the SIG's need more young leaders- Katie ChristoBryan O'BlackJayme Johnson, and  I'm sure I have forgotten a few others, cannot carry forth new ideas for ISTE's special interest groups.

And nor can Julie LaChance (ISTE's first Outstanding Young Educator), Adam BellowChristopher CraftAndy Crozier, Mary Beth Hertz and myself (Class of 2010 Emerging Leaders). Why?

Even if we are young, our ideas are worth it.

And if you are scared to step up and share your ideas- take this one take away:

While backstage awaiting to be announced as part of the first class of ISTE Emerging Leaders, I readily admitted that I was nervous... yes me the speedskater who has skated at US Nationals- was nervous to go on the stage. I was not afraid to be in front of the entire crowd, I was afraid of the word 'emerging'. After a few minutes of playing positive mental games with myself, I realized that 'emerging' meant that someone saw that I am committed to this charge of promoting leadership with ISTE's youngest members and showing that my our ideas are worth it.  And you know what? I bet every person I stood with on that stage plus the youngest members of the SIG Leadership Teams, would say the same thing.

My colleague on SIGilt, Adam, is one of the most business saavy people I have ever met, he also does a great job of being a good friend. With his quirkiness, wit and ever so practical advice- I've personally learned a ton since first meeting him at NECC 2009.

I took a picture of him just glaring at the camera during the ISTE 2010 Leadership Symposium- I asked a few people what they thought the picture said, and the most common response I got, "Listen." Little did I know that during ISTE 2010, I would realize that listening shaped what we did this past year and how by listening gave me a new direction (I'll explain that in a bit).

See the real story is, how did listening get SIGilt to this point..? Last year at NECC 2009 (Washington DC), Jean, Katie, Adam and myself started as newbies on the SIGilt Board of Directors for ISTE. We were unprepared to say the least, I remember finding myself giving the SIGilt report at the SIG leadership meeting and stumbling through the entire thing, Adam ended up helping me finish out the report.  In fact, we were without any plans or directions, that did not stop any of us.  Looking back, I would say that it took the act of listening to achieve what we did.

Throughout the year we built our newsletter, which now has turned into a magazine of sorts- it will go from being published four times a year to six. We restructured our board to introduce an Online Professional Development Coordinator and furthermore, achieved continuity when Katie was elected as chair-elect. Additionally, we started a digital citizenship project and are preparing to set up book talks and a webinar series.

And that new direction? This year while in Denver at ISTE 2010, I was in the middle of the review of Osseo's ISTE NETS•T Seal of Alignment project. I am currently on the 'last mile' of the project. As I was fretting over how I was going to get to the finish line, Adam proposed the idea of 'why', not 'what' we are doing. After listening to his ideas, I went back to my project and started rebuilding the project to make sure we answered the 'why' instead of the 'what'. It has been some of the best advice I have gotten since I started this project seven months ago.