It’s day 1 of the Georgia Educational Technology Conference (GaETC). I’ve gone every year I’ve been our school’s technology coordinator, which means this is my seventh year in a row. I don’t know if that’s supposed to make me feel experienced, or just old, but I feel a little of both right now.

I was a little more pessimistic about this year’s conference than I’ve been in previous years. After seven years, haven’t I seen all of this enough? I could name some of the stereotypical and perennial sessions off the top of my head:

“10 great iPad apps for [blank].”
“60 websites in 60 minutes about [blank].”
“Ways to integrate [expensive, licensed, niche software] into your classroom TODAY.”
“Getting started with Google [Search, Apps, Drive, Chromebooks, Classroom, etc].”
“Become a Connected Educator by using [blank].”

I didn’t want to go this year. I investigated canceling my registration, but it was too late. I believe in being a good steward of our school’s limited funds, so I wasn’t going to let my $200 registration go to waste, so I begrudingly hauled myself out of bed and drove to the other side of Atlanta.

I’m glad I did.

I picked up my badge and a copy of the program and sat down to mark up the sessions I am considering going to. This year, they’ve made a special effort to provide sessions to instructional technology coaches, with sessions called out in the program. I really appreciated that and found several sessions specific to coaches that seemed interesting and unique.

I also saw a thoughtful tweet on the conference hashtag which challenged conference participants to attend a session that has nothing to do with them or makes them feel uncomfortable, because that’s how you grow as a leader. I needed to hear that. So I might be redoing my conference here in a bit.

Free coffee or not, though, 5AM is still early!