During the EARCOS Conference now in play in Malaysia, Alan November presented a keynote presentation followed by two breakout sessions on Sunday last. As always, I was impressed with the way in which Alan understands and generates that understanding in others.
While some may have walked away from his keynote scratching their heads, I was very aware of a purposeful lack of structure to his presentation. While I cannot confirm my suspicions, I am aware that his methods were likely directed more toward modeling rather than the typical format of bestowing knowledge from the podium of vanity that is more often the standard of typical conference keynotes. Alan attempted a “conversation” with an audience of 500+ and I applaud his efforts.
Ultimately, two things occurred as a result of his efforts:
1) Many left asking questions that inspired very competent conversations. This is the product of a good keynote: creating a degree of tension in the audience that inspires dialog and discourse well after the presentation.
2) Many left scratching their heads wondering what they just did. Despite that, it is clear that as time allows the example of his performance to sink into gray matter, many will look back on their experience in an unpredictable “Ah-Ha” moment and realize the import of what they experienced.
Technology integration will have to follow a path like this to really achieve what its potential purports. We need competent examples (exemplars) of integration and observers must walk away under inspirational moments to apply those skills in their own classrooms. I remember in my own teaching career that the most effective staff developments were the inspirational and engaging speakers that brought information and emotion together into that critical tension that engenders both motivation and deep understanding. Staff development and learning in general has to reach into your soul if you expect it to convert daily realities into visionary change.
So, thank you Alan for changing me. Either intentionally or unintentionally, you brought new insight to how I might choose to achieve our common goal of preparing students for the world in which they will eventually thrive.