How might we overcome the conference to classroom chasm?

Right now, all around the world, many countries have school holidays. Thousands of teachers are spending part of these holidays attending education conferences. Getting inspired, sharing ideas and planning ways to transform their teaching to benefit the learners in their classes.

Fast forward 3 months and how many of these inspiring ideas have actually been implemented? At ICOT last year in Auckland I was inspired greatly by the ideas of Design Thinking from Ewan McIntosh. Yet, back in my school, very little occurred until I changed schools and had more agency to implement these ideas. I spoke to lots of teachers who enjoyed Ewan’s keynote and workshops but know many of these have not implemented the ideas yet at all.

What happens between being inspired at conferences and getting back to the classroom? Is it a crowd-based euphoria that disappears when we leave the conferences? Are the presenters too inspiring so we feel unable to emulate them? Why are ideas disappearing into a chasm to be lost for a year or 2 until we come across them again at another conference?

Do we need to set up critical friend pairings at conferences to check up on how implentation is going? Do we need a day back together 1 month later to discuss any misgivings we now have? Do we need help with pitching our ideas from conferences to senior leaders or influential colleagues?

How might we overcome the conference to classroom chasm?

This post is Day 8 of my Question Quest


5 thoughts on “How might we overcome the conference to classroom chasm?

  1. Great question!!
    While I think it is the responsibility of those attending conferences to feedback to their colleagues, the most effective ways to do this still elude me. Teacher-Only Day presentations give a large audience, but can lack substance or the opportunity to put it into practice soon enough. Professional Development sessions throughout the term/year may buy more time, but often less “buy in” as they are usually at lunchtimes or after school.
    I am going to expect the #edchatNZ conference participants from my school to blog about their experiences, ideas and learning. These blogs are going to be made available to everyone, probably via emails to the links. While this approach may only lead to one or two others being inspired by what we all learn at conference, at least we are sharing our experiences and ideas for those who are interested.

  2. I agree, this is a great question. I even have trouble when I’m back at school 2 days after an exhilarating weekend conference. I find it to be a similar dilemma to sifting through the exponential outpouring of resources we read and hear about online as the next great tools for improving our teaching are developed.
    In that case it could be helpful to just select one or two ideas you think could be easily applied to the start of your school year or next class. In other words take baby steps.
    One thing I try to do is write down all the steps from start to finish of what happened in a particular session at a conference immediately after the session has ended. That helps me recall at a later time what resonates with me in a particular session. It is also a great companion to the notes and handouts I received.
    And, even though I wish I could, I know going into the conference that I will not be able to incorporate everything I learned and saw and loved about a conference when I get back into the classroom.
    I try to focus on the fact that just the experience of being there and connecting personally with all those people is a worthwhile experience on its own. Its OK if I don’t directly apply everything I learned when I return to the classroom, because I heard and saw gifted educators and inspiring ideas that will spark something within me that is new and interesting somewhere down the road.

  3. Pingback: How Might We create the learning experience of a conference more regularly? | Steve Mouldey

  4. Pingback: #ade2014 – getting my geek on | Teaching the Teacher

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