Monday, November 21, 2011

Unconferences for CPD

At our school last week, we  held our first ever Unconference for staff professional learning. I've been to quite a few unconferences (or barcamps) before but this is the first time I've been part of one where the whole school stops and takes part for two days.

An unconference is a participant-driven event. Rather than inviting people to attend a conference where everything has been decided by others in advance (the speakers, the content, the timetable, the spaces etc.) an unconference emerges out of the strengths and interests of the people who attend.
The 'open grid'

How does it work?
The open grid: if you would like to meet up with others to talk about something that interests you, write the title of the session in one of the timetable slots on the day. Anyone else who wants to take part (or co-convene with you) turns up at the appointed time and contributes what they can. It makes for a very responsive, very engaging event which is grass roots and bottom up. If your session sounds similar to one already being proposed, merge the two and co-convene.

Unconference session in progress
I was lucky enough to attend sessions run by my colleagues on things like:
  • Role plays and the mantle of the expert in the classroom
  • Using Facebook to build community with classes
  • Creative use of teaching space strategies
  • Strategies to give useful feedback to students
  • Effective groupwork strategies
But the absolute BEST thing about the unconference was seeing the transformation that takes place when you empower a group of teachers with the belief that they have a powerful contribution to make to the way learning happens inside their school. Outside experts are great, but the first step to transforming any learning organisation should be to tap into the amazing practice that is going on in classrooms every day. And, better than one-off conferences, all of the experts I heard from will be in the staffroom at lunchtime if I want to carry on the conversation.

The two ideas we kept coming back to were 'the answers are in the room' and 'what if your contribution is the key ingredient?' If you've never been part of an unconference before, do it; you won't regret it.

No comments:

Post a Comment