Friday, May 8, 2015

#youredustory, Week 18: Favorite Education Conference

Prompt: What is your favorite education conference you've attended? Why should others attend?

Photo by Rachel Wente-Chaney, used with permission
This. This is why I love iPDX. Three people I respect a ton sitting and talking, pushing on each other about what good professional development is. Conversations like this one with Scott, John, and Kristen are what I love about having edufriends all over the place that I get to see every so often.

But that can happen at any conference. And it does, to a certain extent. But the quality of the people at iPDX - facilitators, attendees, keynoters - is so high. This is definitely one of the joys of a smaller conference.

You get to a point where you go to enough PD - mandatory, site or district-based PD or PD that you choose to go to that - that you know bad pedagogy in PD when you see it. Sit and get sessions that focus on apps or tools. Led by one person in front of the room talking at people.

30 New Ideas in 60 Minutes. Session clickbait, if you will. 'Come listen to me for sixty minutes - you'll leave smarter.' And there are people I can sit and listen to for sixty minutes. But that isn't a long list.

It can be different. Longer sessions. Explicit instructions about being a facilitator, not a presenter. Time to sit and reflect and create. Time to build something to take home and use. Time to continue the conversations begun in sessions. Keynotes that push the boundaries of what a keynote can be.

These things can happen: that's what iPDX is. That's what iPDX does. It can be done.

And I'll own it - at iPDX15 this year I was nowhere near as good as I wanted to be as a facilitator. Some sessions didn't quite go where I expected them to go. In others I did too much presenting and not enough facilitating. But I‘ve reflected on - and hopefully learned from - my mistakes. And I've got a list of ideas about what to do better moving forward.

At places like iPDX I learn from watching others facilitate. Kelly Kermode thinks about experiences in sessions really thoroughly. I loved how this year she had attendees creating, moving, and offering feedback in her session on visualizing data. Curt Rees left me with a lot of small things that I can do as a teacher to impact culture on a campus. When you start thinking about cultural and cultural shifts, ideas can get big and daunting in a hurry. Curt did an excellent job keeping things manageable, but oriented towards action. Leigh Graves Wolfe gave a closing keynote that was incredibly participatory - like 500 people participatory - and was a huge risk on her part. And NAILED it.

I leave conferences like iPDX excited. Energized. Looking forward to implementing ideas in my classroom and at PD that I organize. Looking forward to marinating on the ideas around PD that echo through my head.

I leave hopeful for more conference experiences like iPDX.

---

More information on #youredustory can be found here. Consider joining in the fun!