Seattle, STN, and Final Thoughts

We have had a week to digest the experience we had in Seattle at the annual STN national convention.

The weather in Seattle was basically perfect. No rain. Lots of sunshine. Yes, I’m talking about THAT Seattle. It was amazing. Great weather for touring, competing, just walking and taking in the sites, and absorbing the feel of a big city.

So here are some reflections from someone who loves this event, and even chaired it the first five years. Yes, you can file this under “For What It’s Worth,” because I have no role in running the convention. I am just one of the 3,000 who attended.


1—The opening ceremony got really rough reviews from the seven or eight teachers I talked to about it, but full disclosure—we did not attend. After the usual stress of the Crazy 8 contest, we visited the Space Needle to take advantage of the clear blue sky, and then we went to dinner. We had actually not heard of the keynote speaker, and my students who attended last year said the opening was their least favorite part of the convention. So they asked me weeks ago if they could bail. I said okay. This time.

2—The Crazy 8 really needs to run from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Nothing is open at 8 a.m., which is when it starts now. Folks are not answering the phone. Having the deadline one hour later can not be that big of a hindrance to the judges, and it’s still three hours before the opening ceremony.

3—The Crazy 8 is skim-the-surface-time for us. We have a hard time doing stories that have much depth, or importance, really. I do appreciate the tough topic this year, which threw some folks off-balance, I’m sure. A bad note: I had a crew drop by a shop to see about an interview, and the owner said they were contacted “two weeks ago” for an interview. Two weeks ago? Come on people. That’s pathetic.

4—It is impressive how professional the STN in-house broadcasts are. They are also streamed live of course. The gang from Texas High School have it down pat. Never let them go. And starting on time was a plus. Good work all.

5—The contests are the backbone of the STN convention, and it is impressive so many kids meet deadline and do high quality work. Amazing, really. We only had one team miss deadline, and they are turning their project, which was not submitted, into a piece for our show later this month, which is great. They will get something useful out of their efforts despite missing deadline in Seattle.

6—I was glad there was a new category, “Podcast Story.” I think it’s great, but my kids took it literally and concentrated on telling a story with sound bites, voiceover, kind of a journalistic approach. I am not sure the judges were looking for that.

7—I did two sessions, one for teachers-only that was just what some of us needed. Lots of positive, specific reflections from the teachers in the audience. I came away energized and encouraged. I hope others did as well.

8—I am always proud to see Mizzou sponsor the STN teacher luncheon.

9—I did not visit the vendors. I was in that area a few times, but the contest meetings happened there, and it was pretty congested. Probably bad timing by me to go up to the third floor at the wrong time. Once I was running late for a session, and it was a madhouse. The other time I was meeting colleagues. By the way, the check-in/registration process was simple. I appreciated that.

10—I enjoyed the usual variety of cameras, accessories, mics, prompters, you name it. I love seeing the technology other schools are using that we will likely never have. I am serious—it is great to see the cool toys.

None of my critique is meant to take individuals to task. There is no perfect convention ever, trust me. I can attest to that. I have the scars to prove it. The STN convention is huge, it’s exciting, and it is here to stay. I have no idea if anyone had similar experiences or reactions.

Feel free to comment here about anything you want. I am sure the STN folks appreciate constructive input from their customers. On to D.C. in 2020.