Thursday, March 17, 2005

early career teachers conference

Of course, the moment of truth always arrives. The conference I had been planning (with much help from many others of course) was held last Friday.

I certainly had an interesting day. An early start on the train into town - it's actually not a bad way to travel, reading, listening, observing etc. It's funny too because when I take the train into town I actually feel like I'm a business professional or something traveling to work and being all very important! Not a scummy teacher and PhD student! It almost gives me a sense of worth as an state and national economic contributor!

So after I was able to drag myself off the steet and up to the conference (high above the city floor) I was able to finalise arrangements for the morning panel session and some other stuff.

My concern has always been that in framing the conference in a different way - as an opportunity to engage in the 'big issues' for younger teachers - that people might not actually want to come! That they want handouts and tips and tricks for tough afternoon classes rather than intellectual stimulation and a chance to talk, wonder, critque and argue about their work. So the panel has always been for me a way of signalling a type of direction and saying 'this is where we are and want we think is important at least for now!' To this end, the four of us Nat, Mel, Darc, and me have been talking and writing our way to some kind of understanding about something! Over the last couple of months thinking and talking about the issue that are important to us. We hoped these would resonate with others on the day. And that is always a dangerous (or at least precarious) kind of hope.

Anyway, I muffled my way through some kind of introduction and then let the girls go for it. They of course were fantastic. Such rich ideas and experiences. So full of ideas and quality reflection. Honest and quite open about failure and success. Inspiring and humbling. The tone of the auditorium was completely changed and 'opened up'. Afterwards people were talking and laughing and all that good stuff. I hoped that, in the very least, the panel would just get people talking. I think it did this.

The workshop later in the afternoon was also interesting. Not many people turned up (about 9) but that worked out really well - better than if there had been 20 or so. It gave us a chance to really explore issues like conversation and professional learning in a more intimate setting. Once again contributions from Mel, Darc and Nat were extrememly valuable. The only downside was probably that I spoke too much. I was challenged again by the idea that participants come to a workshop expecting certain things, and so I wanted to resist these expectations but to also explain why I was doing this and then provide an alternative way of understanding the issues on the table.

Anyway, so that was the conference - or my involvement.

As an afterword though, I always feel a loss in someways. The last couple of months of working with Darc, Nat and Mel have been excellent. It is always great to be able to form these small groups and work together towards something bigger or something that challenges you to think about your work, relationships, and all those other things you can take for granted.

So (publically) I want to thank those who participated in the conference, especially those who helped to organise and conceptualise it and then to so speak so eloquently and passionately.

What's our next project?


At 11:02 am, Blogger Darce said...

Ready and waiting for the next project Scott - loved the conference and the experience of working and sharing with you guys! Let's get published (or something)!

At 3:28 pm, Blogger Scott said...

Well that makes sense as the next project. Let's write up our panel contributions and see if Idiom or something will publish them. What do you think?

At 5:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me. It would be good to be able to integrate them in some way, or at least begin with a central premise/introduction and move through each contribution from there. There are certainly a number of shared threads running through each of them (including yours, Scott). That way, we would be enacting on the page the discussion that has enabled the creation of each separate piece of writing (at least to an extent).
Hope you're all well,


At 4:32 pm, Blogger M said...

Hi Scott,
Long time reader, first time commentor (isn't that what they say???)I don't know that my article is great yet, but I will sit down with it at some point and try to become less "creative writing" lady and more "interesting, making a point" lady. But I was so energised by the group and now feel flat and over it again with my keep in touch :)

At 11:40 pm, Blogger Scott said...

I know what you mean m about being flat after something like this - I always wonder out thinking - "OK so what do I do know?" The daily grind and issues are the first thing to hit of course and while we've had a quality learning thing going on, everyone else at school is wondering what all the fuss is about!

how's your blog?


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