Today I got to experience my first UnConference. For those of you unfamiliar with the term Unconferences are bottom up learning opportunities. Without keynote speakers, or workshops these conferences work by having participants elect on subjects they would like to know more about. Either topics they have some experiences in or want to have more experience with. The participants usually a group of colleagues, peers or the public then get an opportunity to vote on the proposed topics. These topics are spread out throughout the conference and have limited moderation for a group collaboration and discussion.
This format might seem a little bizarre until it is experienced. The opportunity to share knowledge with peers and experts allows for a wide range of conversations to take place and group learning to occur. In the short introduction I received in Ed-Tech we discussed ‘Favourite Teachers’ and the characteristics that made them as such.
We didn’t have a self proclaimed expert on the topic and while the group didn’t have a moderator we quickly fell into a format that I found worked for everyone who was present. Starting as just a pair and share we went around the group and described our favourite teachers and the characteristics that made them as such. About half way through the sharing we stumbled upon the topic of how there were teachers that we did not like and their characteristics. This helped us reinforce our discussion and highlighted those traits we would all like to emulate as teachers. Perfectly summed up by another participant in this Conference “Our common trait across all of them was that they treated us like humans” At the end of the day it was the teachers that respected us as people, were approachable and didn’t write people off that made the best impression. Typically our stories started with how funny our favourite teacher was but this lead to a strong asterisk. Teachers that tried to hard to be any one kind of trait, funny, sympathetic, rules lawyer, usually ended up leaving an unfavourable impression with as we felt they were trying to hard.
This conversation ended with a few brief ideas as what we all aspired to be as future teachers and I think really created a bit of a reality for us as to what we wanted to do with profession and the impression we wanted to leave on future students. Not only do I see the benefit to unconfernces i hope to bring this style of learning into my own classroom to hopefully allow students to take ownership of their subjects and interests. Allowing them to choose the topics they want to learn about.
For more information about Edcamps and unconfernces click here.