Confession: I Change from Conversation, Not Keynotes

2014-06-18 10.26.18I’ve been super lucky to have attended some amazing professional learning experiences–state, national, and district conferences. EdCamps, summits, and institutes…I’ve been both an attendee and a presenter. I’ve given (little) keynotes, and facilitated groups of five discussing a topic of education.

And what I’ve realized is this: any time I’ve changed, really changed my practice has been a result of a conversation, not a keynote.

I can point to them, and have written about at least one thus far.

At Educon last year, I was part of a conversation with about 30 other educators on the intersection of race and our classrooms. This fundamentally changed the priority of this in my classroom and in any future leadership opportunities.

In an after school conversation, a colleague diagramed on my white board the way he helps students understand how to deconstruct and re-construct an analysis paragraph. It has forever changed how I see this skill through my students eyes and support them with being successful at it.

In a recent casual session, Kevin Honeycutt shared his journey with experiencing and understanding the destructive nature of bullying in our schools. The way he led a conversation with us, changed the way I approached my classroom on the first day of school, and has since changed the way I think about talking to my students.

These conversations were catalyst points.

But Keynotes have played a different role in my life. They reconnect me with what I already know, inspire me to re-engage with a challenge, remind me of a mindset I want to embody. They play a crucial role in my continued dedication to a student-focused practice grounded in growing empathy and agency.

But Keynotes don’t change me. And I think that’s ok.

I will just prioritize the lunch and dinner conversations and the small group sessions. I will prioritize reflection time over seat time. I will strive to translate this to my classroom: less keynoting, more conversing. Less one-way, more two-way.

Anyone else have these kinds of reflections after being at a conference? 

3 thoughts on “Confession: I Change from Conversation, Not Keynotes

  1. Notes I took during today’s staff meeting: “pedagogy is ultimately about the relationship among teacher, student and content. If the RELATIONSHIP is key, then how teachers learn and lead must be GROUNDED in relationships. This is why top-down relationships eventually fall flat.” …You’re still vibe-ing with BB’s brainwaves! 🙂

  2. In my conference experiences, I’ve noted the same. I often skip keynotes, plenary sessions, and the rare concurrent session in favor of conversations in the hallways with colleagues. I value my lunches & dinners more than the lectures. I grow more from sharing with others and reflection on best practices than I do from the main content of conferences.

    That being said, much of the content I take in at conferences serves as common ground or talking points with those colleagues. Those presentations often spark my imagination, fueling the deep-dive that I will engage in with others immediately afterward (which is why I sometimes miss the next session to be honest).

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