Looks pretty accurate to me. 🙂 or maybe I should be crying.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how conferences work and how to allow people to get more out of them. It’d be interesting to set the vision/motivation for the day in the AM and then break out for supporting hands on activities based around content areas.
Then maybe there are modified sessions running for admins on the basics of the concepts, how to observe, collect data etc. with a focus on what the teachers are learning.
Then you’ve got an end of day break down and reflection in your team groups with a facilitator.
Maybe this isn’t a conference but it seems like it might actually have a shot at changing practice.
I guess I just have unusually low expectations, but I generally get a kick out of most keynote conference speakers. Just saw Daniel Pink and thought his remarks put the rest of the day’s session in context.
Of course, conferences are about personal contact as much or more than sessions and speakers and workshops. And an important break from the routine both physically and mentally.
I still like even the old fashioned conference both as an attendee and as a presenter. (I find much of the back channel stuff now going on as more distracting than helpful.)
All the best,
While “famous speakers” are nice once in a while, we are firm believers here in local talent. We had a full day recently at where we invited some of our teacher/librarian teams to present their best practice work around Inquiry Learning. Some incorporated Web 2.0 and other technologies and some did not. We saw a group of third graders and their blog about the worm farm that they are building all year, a team of teachers and librarian who had their HS students develop a “Proposal for Change” – they had to research and propose a change in the school, community or country.
What we learned is that there are some amazing things going on right in our own schools. When the speaker is a local success story – others in the region think: “We can do that too!”. They are not speaking from the Emerald City – but from their own work-a-day, real world.
It also gives those successful folks a chance to share what they know and hone their presentation skills. It’s a win-win.
The trick is finding those “best practitioners”. They don’t often brag about their work and it is often invisible. You have to find them out by asking repeatedly : “What’s going on in your classroom?” “What projects are you doing that you would define as”inquiry based”?
Here’s a link to some of the work going on in one of our buildings:
My 2 cents!
I think ‘exchanging’, ‘sharing’, and ‘creating’ are key. The outline you lay out here is really interesting. How do we make these experiences ‘stickier’?
I’ve always looked at conferences as places that serve many purposes…to listen and be inspired, to pick up a few practical tips that I can use immediately, and to network and share with my peers…I guess I’d add that they can be places to celebrate the work that we do as we blaze the tech trail in our schools.
I think you are right though, it’s about expectations. Conference keynotes serve a purpose…but I don’t think they generate much classroom change. Generally, if we’re looking for answers in those 45 minute set pieces, we’re going to be disappointed.
I walked slowly into the meeting room. His eyes, orbs of dark liquidity, sought mine across the room. As the others packed their briefcases, some stuffing laptops and cords in a jumble, he folded shut the notebook in front of him. When the room had cleared, only he and I and my disappointment remained.
“I read your email, Peter,” he began. The moment’s hesitation did not betray his weakness, but rather, mine. It clawed at me like a ravenous beast, even as I fought to beat it down, like a child slapping at malevolent waves.
“You’d hope the speaker’s words would change things, didn’t you? That somehow, that all would see the way in the light, that their enthusiasm during the presentation would survive the journey back here.”
His voice stirred me. I blinked once. Again. “I just don’t understand what it all means. I had such high hopes. I know we’re all jaded, that change can happen, that a powerful speaker could inspire us to be more…but it doesn’t seem to be playing out that way.”
As he tucked the silver pen he’d taken notes with into his jacket pocket, a smile slowly appeared. “As human beings, we change so little at a time, it isn’t wrong to compare us to young plants that must be tended by the sun, the steady drip of rain, nourished by the nutrients in the soil we are planted in, even as we bloom to reach the sky.”
I meditated on his response.
“You should look, not to how the speaker’s words changed those around you, but rather, how you were inspired to pursue change.”
The door popped open, and a secretary walked in. Her trim solid blue suit framing a crisp blouse reminded me of Catholic school. A sentry against disorder, a clergywoman of the status quo, she cleared away the donuts and coffee stained napkins.
He whispered, “You see, as much as you crave inspiration and change, the organization demands order and stability. Tethered to the hand of a child, a kite’s flight is a sight to behold. Loosed, the kite falls from the sky.”
Hope you had as much fun reading that as I did writing it (what, 5 minutes? hehe),
I looked back across the table, and I have to admit, I was slightly annoyed at the words that had just been spoken.
I thought to myself, “What does he mean, ‘I should look at how these words inspired ME to pursue change?’ Hell, I’m the technology guy. I thrive on change! It’s these others that have already left the room that are the obstacles to change. They just don’t ‘get it!’ ”
He stood across the table from me in silence, self assured and grounded enough to let his words find their way through my mind to their intended target…my heart.
Suddenly the truth resonated in me like a tuning fork at just the right pitch. “My facility with the new technology tools is not change. The fact that I embrace these tools is not change. This kind of change is superficial, like evolving from a push lawn mower to riding lawn mower. In one way it seems like a big step, but when looked at another way…it’s just mowing the lawn with the latest tool.”
I looked up and caught his eyes which were smiling now.
I broke the silence, “So, what is it I have to change?” I was really asking myself, I knew he would not answer.
“Pete, you know the answer to that. Why are you asking me?”
It was true. I knew exactly what I needed to change.
“And if I change, how will that change all this?” I swept my hand in front of me to indicate the entire school.
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