2016 has begun and already I’ve been kindly invited to present, attend or help organise conferences. A conference is a meeting of people who 'confer' about a topic. I’ve been thinking…What do educators need or want from a conference? By conference, I mean both profit & non-profit.
* One of my favourite ‘paid ‘conferences I attended last year was the ACEL conference. http://andreastringer.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/can-you-measure-effectiveness-of.html
Inspired by Words
I loved listening to stories shared by Cathy Freeman and Mark Donaldson and the experiences and research presented by the educational keynote speakers was outstanding. I believe keynote speakers can inspire you with their words. They share the latest research or ask questions to clarify or challenge your thinking. They may propose a new approach or idea. It’s up to YOU to follow through with action. Like Twitter, conferences are springboards for you to dive deeper into the topic or connect with the presenter. I do struggle with the ‘sit and listen’ approach and wonder if they could provide time and activities that promote discussion and collaboration with others directly after each presentation. This way you are more likely to transfer words into actions.
Inspired by Actions
A TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. The TeachMeet at Sydney Opera House was inspiring as we listened and viewed effective practises (actions) and stories of learning, experiences and failures. What was different during this TeachMeet was the opportunity to chat. Half way through the presentations, teachers had the opportunity to further speak with the presenters or converse with other educators about what they just heard & viewed. You are provided an opportunity to transfer the actions into words.
I encourage students to ‘turn and talk’ with their peers during my classes, especially when new concepts or skills are introduced. What if conferences encouraged more turn and talk to deepen the level of understanding? Does attending a conference guarantee professional learning? Who is responsible for your PD? What would be your ultimate conference experience?
Providing opportunities to have discussions after presentations enables different perspectives and experiences to be shared and promotes a deeper understanding.
The learning continues....