So many people go to conferences and they will say things like, “I really loved the speaker, but I really loved the time that I had to connect with colleagues informally and share our ideas.”
I could not agree with this statement more.
Too often when I speak at events, their is a short break before educators have to rush to their next session, because the organizers are trying to make the most out of the time for participants. What we don’t realize is that educators do not have enough time to talk to each other; it feels like they are either teaching or being taught. Yet conferences need to embed times where participants can do more than grab a snack and go to the bathroom.
As someone who speaks at these events, I do my best to spark thinking and challenge people, not just give them ideas to implement in the classroom. Learning would be so much deeper if participants could have conversations with their colleagues to make their own connections; I can’t make these connections for them. I know we often talk about “personalized learning” but all learning is personal. These unstructured times are extremely valuable to education.
Often when I am leading workshops, I give prompts for conversations and I explicitly tell the adults in the room, “If I come to sit down at your table, do not pretend to be talking about these questions, if you aren’t. This is your time and it is valuable. Use it how you see fit.”
My hope in writing this is that we do not just see this time as valuable for adults, but for kids as well. What if we didn’t just give kids breaks, but looked at them as networking and reflection time? Would that change the way we taught when kids are leaving our rooms for their own “breaks”?
Some of the best learning that can take place in a day, although deliberate, can be unplanned. We can’t expect people to “think” if we don’t give them the time to do so.
Source: George Couros