Education conferences tend to be limited by their very structure. Sessions are pre-determined and pre-populated prior to the event and have a fixed amount of time. Sometimes there is too much time and participants are bored as the presenter tries to fill space; sometimes the topic requires more time than what was allotted and participants leave wanting more. Fortunately, there is a solution to the traditional conference. Maximize your own learning by participating in an unconference!
Unconferences are different from traditional conferences because the agenda is created on the spot by participants at the start of the event. This assures that all topics will be relevant and sessions will be more engaging because they rely on the expertise of the group. Rather than listening passively to one presenter, unconference sessions encourage participants to lead sessions and drive the conversation with their own knowledge and experiences.
Unconferences are always free and are often organized by not-for-profit organizations or schools. Unlike commercialized conferences with vendors and high profile sponsors, the purpose of an unconference is to promote learning, not sell a product. The very structure of an unconference allows anyone to take the lead on a topic during a session. This makes learning and the interactions between participants more authentic and meaningful.
Education unconferences are now widespread across the country. You can search for upcoming unconferences here and here. It's likely that there is one near you that you can attend throughout the school year. What better way to learn than by engaging with your colleagues and professional peers? For more ideas onprofessional development for substitute teachers, follow our blog! If you have attended an unconference in the past, tell us about it in the comments!