Conference Choir Loft

I am such a weak man.  I went down stairs last night to buy a Diet Coke and look what I came back up to my room with.  Dark chocolate cake with raspberry filling.  I am such a weak man!

You know you’re in Texas when an attractive woman hobbles up, introduces herself as your host for the conference, and then apologizes for her limp, explaning that she has “..a bird dog injury.” 

It’s been a great week, though quite exhausting.  At least I had a few undisturbed hours in my hotel room yesterday afternoon and evening — mostly preparing for today’s luncheon keynote for the Texas TECSIG meeting — a brand new keynote.  Yesterday I spoke to the Target Tech group at the Airport (Austin) Hilton.  These were representatives from schools, districts, and collaboratives who have earned ARRA funding to implement their innovative proposals.  It was something of an odd venue.  I have presented indoors, outdoors, in basketball gyms, and even a couple of tents (“Be Healed!!”).  But yesterday was the first time I’ve ever presented in a former Air Force command bunker.  Very odd!

The first day of this particular tour was in Iowa (32F [0C]), and their ITEC conference, my first conference in quite a while.  What struck me was the half forgotten conversations that spring out of these conferences — and the one that resonated most was several tweets about how some of the sessions were “..preaching to the choir.”  Often, my response to this lament is that we are teaching the choir to sing as much as preaching to them.  Someone mentioned in the Tweet-Up how we come to these conferences to learn new language for the messages we’ve been delivering at home for months (or years.)

But I feel that this is not enough — especially if we want the more experienced and forward reaching educators to continue to attend these conferences.  I was wondering about a dedicated room at the conferences that might be called the “Choir Loft.”  This is where conference attendees would go, who find no sessions, at a particular time slot, that appeal to them (that teach them something new).  It would act like a blogger cafe, but set up explicitly for conversation.   It could still be set up like a lounge, with chairs and tables for small group conversations, but also facility for larger group un-conference still learning.

The Tweet-Up, at ITEC, was very much like this, though we had to find a table, though we had to continue to slide back as more people joined us.  It was a conversation about what people wanted to explore.  For some of the Tweople there, it may have been the highpoint of the event (my keynote aside).

Well, I need to find a picture of a bird dog for my opening visual this morning.

2 thoughts on “Conference Choir Loft”

  1. Hi David

    I have always been intrigued by the ““..preaching to the choir.”

    Mostly, because I have been and am a choir director, and the primary goal of any choir director is to never ever have your choir stay at a certain level.

    You are always working to perfect, to stretch, to become better, and to keep setting new goals.

    To me, preaching to the choir, if you are saying the same old thing is a 100% time waster — but if you continue to spark, to enlighten, to encourage, to motivate, to inspire, to correct, to challenge, and to strive for new heights — then preaching to the choir is 100% okay with me.

    As long as you are always recruiting new members!!


  2. Dave, I have attended many State and National conferences in my educational lifetime. In the distant past, the only way I could experience “David Warlick” was to attend a once-in-a-blue-moon conference that I was allowed to attend. Usually this was at some expense to my district or myself. And usually there was only one or two conferences I could attend in a given year.

    Today, budget constraints mean many people cannot not attend ANY conferences. But.. they have RSS feeds to you. Your blog becomes a contact that, in some ways, surpasses attending a face to face session with hundreds of others, with only momentary contact. The trick is to help teachers know the RSS feed process and how to locate you and others who are either futuring, or leading through example.

    So.. many conferences focusing on technology are, indeed, a collection of knowledgeable folks with a good set of “technology” skills already in place. The audience is limited… a choir to be taught a new song indeed. But that choir leaves that place and scatters. It does not sing a single tune to a single audience. The effectiveness of conference presentations is .. different.. ??

    I learn more now from monitoring the feeds from you, Will, Dave Jakes, others, than I ever learned in a single conference.

    Thank you.

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