Skip to the main content
Your browser is out of date! Update your browser to view this website correctly
Update my browser
Spaces homeSpaces home
EN Decorative Icon

Growth Over Grades Podcast: Ep. 17 ISTELive23 Review Panel

Ep. 17 | ISTELive23 Review Panel
Melody McAllister
July 19, 2023

Ep. 17 | ISTELive23 Review Panel

Meet The Panel 

This extraordinary panel of guests has all attended ISTE multiple times. In fact, Dr. John Wick has attended the most with 14 ISTES! Not only do I consider each guest a personal friend, but each of them are constantly creating ripples of change, putting in the work, and changing education on a larger scale. 

Dr. Sarah Thomas is the founder/CEO of EduMatch,  She also just released her book, Sarahdateechur’s Guide to Podcasting. She is a Regional Tech Coordinator, author, and speaker. It was ISTE in 2017 where she was featured in an Ignite Session and coined the phrase Professional Learning Family or #PLF. Dr. Thomas has created one of the largest educational communities that reaches educators internationally, called EduMatch. The impact that Dr. Thomas has had in our educator community is a legacy that will last beyond a lifetime. 

S1: E2: Building Community with Dr. Sarah Thomas

Dr. Henry Turner is a high school principal, author, and keynote speaker. He and leader, Kathy Lopes, co-wrote Change The Narrative: How to Foster An Antiracist Cutlure in Your School. He advocates for change to support all students, especially those who have been historically marginalized and those in the LGBTQIA+ Community. He makes sure every student feels welcome in the school community that he serves in. Dr. Turner advocates for students and teachers and is no stranger to pushback. But that does not stop him, and his community supports him because his work is genuine and has grown young leaders who advocate for each other.  Dr. Turner is most proud of the work that his students lead which honors diversity, equity, and inclusion in action. 

Tara Desiderio an elementary school principal and a leader and speaker in education. She is also co-moderator #CultureEd and  #EducationNeverDies. She is dedicated to helping educators and students embrace a love of learning and happiness. Tara is incredibly talented and creative and brings educators together for a stronger community. She has the ability to speak life into all those around her. Desiderio has the uncanny ability to share resources that will build up students and teachers and does this regularly through her social platforms. 

Dr. Michael Harvey live-streamed with us from New Zealand! He is a physics teacher and author of multiple books. He is active in educator communities and is very supportive of his network. His expertise and knowledge are vast, a true renaissance man! He’s a leader in the AR/VR and AI realms of education. If you do a Google search, you might find some of his educational songs that he shares with his students. Dr. Harvey never shies away from sharing truths when he knows it will build up the education system and help his peers. 

Sean Arnold has worked in the New York City Public Schools for 18 years. He is a Computer Science Director and an ISTE Featured Voice. Recently, he made the list for 30 K–12 IT Influencers to Follow in 2023. Sean is a supporter of every learner and always willing to do his part in breaking down walls that keep students from reaching their potential. He strives to make learning purposeful and fun, and he has expertise in gamifying education. Sean regularly presents to help ensure other educators reach every student. His work as a Special Education teacher also gives him more insight. 

Hedreich Nichols is an educator, edtech specialist as well as a consultant, and CEO of #SmallBites. She has several books out right now for educators and students, including Finding Your Blindspots: 8 Principles for Overcoming Implicit Bias in Teaching. She was an ISTE Featured Speaker this year. She is also extremely musically talented, a Grammy-Nominated Singer! Nichols has the ability to draw everyone in with her sincerity and then show truth that resonates and spurs change, “one small bite at a time.” She is highly sought after to speak. 

Dr. John Wick is a K-8 principal in southern California. He’s also a speaker and author. He stays up on the latest virtual reality trends and helps educators use them for teaching. He has helped turn his current school around and is a dynamic champion for students and teachers. Dr. Wick advocates being a whole person. He’s multi-talented as an educator, researcher, artist, and actor. Dr. Wick is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. In fact, he shared how he loved helping first time ISTE attendees find their way through the overwhelm of the conference. 

Important ISTE Takeaways

Meeting our PLN in person was probably the best takeaway for all of us! In fact, it was the first time Dr. Sarah Thomas and Hedreich Nichols had met face-to-face and it was an emotional meeting. It was my first time meeting Dr. Michael Harvey in person, and I was blown away when he showed up to one of my sessions.

When we work with people virtually, and then finally meet face-to-face, it always feels like we’ve known each other all along. It was no different at ISTE. Tara Desiderio shared about her networking experience, and we all agreed it was powerful. 

Another important takeaway that Hedreich Nichols shared, which resonated deeply with everyone on the panel, was the affinity meetings. Not only the meetings, but she shared that ISTE made supporting Black and Brown educators a true focus, not just an option in an obscure place. She said it was healing for her. 

Dr. Sarah Thomas shared how important it was to see representation on the main stage in a debut event called Our Voice Amplified from the Our Voice Alliance

This picture is courtesy of the Black Professionals in Edtech Affinity Space Collection.

Sean Arnold hopes the affinity groups keep growing and expanding to battle against the isolation of certain groups in the edtech space. He also enjoyed being able to amplify other educators, who are new to ISTE and whose platforms are just beginning though their messages and expertise would benefit many other educators. Dr. Michael Harvey also felt it was important to show up and support those in his professional learning network. 

Community Member and ISTE attendee, Melisa Hayes, shared how she wished there were meetups for grade level and subject areas. 

Photo courtesy of Hedreich Nichols.

Dr. John Wick summed his takeaways as, “...networking, community, and just being with people who want to make change happen.” 

Gearing Up For The Next School Year

As we closed out our conversation, the responsibility that to guide our students in a positive direction, regarding technology, weighs heavily on each of us. 

Tara Desiderio reminded us that while our students have access to all kinds of technology, they don’t always have the maturity to use it well. She suggested a new book by Shannon Miller called Sonia’s Digital World. A book that we can use for our elementary students to help guide them, and it uses student ISTE standards.

Dr. Michael Harvey reminded us to be accountable to our own learning about using AI. As popular as artificial intelligence is right now, the responsibility for us to use it well and help our students do the same is important. He stressed accountability in this area. 

Dr. Henry Turner shared, “Science fiction is now science fact….” But he stressed even more importantly that in the face of all these advancements, teaching our students how to care about one another is still a top priority. It’s a responsibility that belongs to each of us in our various roles. 

Sean Arnold shared that our panel conversation reminded him to make sure we know how to advocate for our students and teachers in this political climate. He also shared that our students need to be involved in the solutions to the realities we are all facing. 

This conversation, including those who were tuning in and sharing, was such a great way to close out Season One of our Growth Over Grades Podcast. Technology at its best strengthens how we reach and teach our students. Those on this panel, and those who tuned in, are all committed to this. Please take the time to listen to all the episodes of this first season and let us know what you think! 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Henry Turner.

Follows & Show Notes:

S1Growth Over Grades Episodes

30 K–12 IT Influencers to Follow in 2023

ISTE23-The Power of Connections by Dr. Michael Harvey 

EduMatch Website

Our Voice Alliance FB Page

Hedreich’s Website

Dr. Henry Turner’s Website


Change the Narrative by Dr. Henry Turner & Kathy Lopes

Saradateechur’s Guide to Podcasting by Dr. Sarah Thomas 

Finding Your BlindSpots by Hedreich Nichols 

Sonia’s Digital World by Shannon McClintock Miller 

Sean Arnold-Making Learning Really Meaningful and Motivational for Everyone

Dr. Sarah Thomas 

Dr. Sarah Thomas on beehiv 

Sean Arnold

Tara Desiderio 

Hedreich Nichols (@Hedreich on all socials) 

Dr. John Wick

Dr. Michael Harvey 

Melody McAllister 

Dr Henry Turner

Dr. Henry Turner on Threads

Melody McAllister

Try these next...

An illustration of a white eye
How SpacesEDU Supports Career and Technical Education (CTE)

SpacesEDU by myBlueprint is a digital portfolio and proficiency-based assessment platform that allows career and technical education (CTE) students to easily showcase ...

An illustration of a white eye
Enhancing Career and Technical Education With Digital Portfolios

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is an integral part of today’s education system, providing career exploration opportunities and helping prepare students with ...

An illustration of a white eye
The Benefits of Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Profiles of Leading States

Career and technical education (CTE) differs from traditional education by emphasizing practical skill development and real-world application.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram