Re-thinking Conferences

As a part of the Missouri District Educator's Conference planning committee, it has been a joy to work with some folks who are willing to take risks! Many conversations, ranging from what we want our conference to look like, to changing formats, changing locations, and even changing the number of days the conference convenes, where all important as we decided the future direction of our District's professional development opportunity.

The thing that is most clear coming out of our planning process is that our conferences need to change! No longer can we decide to end sectionals early on a Monday so teachers can go shopping at the outlet malls. Especially if this is the only professional development opportunity they have all year!

We purposely chose to follow the lead of other successful gatherings: This year a major part of our time is going to be a Learning Galleria (like poster-board sessions). We have wonderfully talented teachers in the Missouri District, but most of them would never present for an hour in front of their peers. But if we could encourage them to be at a table with hand-outs and have conversations about their projects or units, they would be more than willing to do that.

This year we are also culling our sectional load down to six. We believe we have assembled six wonderfully talented presenters that we want as many of our MO District teachers to be engaged with. The most exciting part, at least for me, is that we will get to enjoy a virtual presentation from Will Richards entitled "A Web of Connections."

God willing, this will be a powerful experience for everyone involved. We pray that the change in format will be well received the greeted with open minds.

Below is a video that I stumbled upon several months ago about re-thinking conferences and how we can better engage teachers in a more meaningful learning process. I wish we could have implemented more of their ideas this year, but as Bill Murray repeated over and over again in the movie "What About Bob," it's about "Baby Steps!"

Conference Logo "By All Means" created by Jon Fiala and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license.