KATE held its first UnConference two weeks ago, and I've been reflecting on it for almost that long. The main conclusion that I have come to is that there is a tremendous amount of knowledge contained within the members of KATE. I continue to be impressed with the passion, pedagogical prowess, and content knowledge that our colleagues from across the state possess.
The conference opened with a welcome session which gave us our purpose and structure for the day. Each person was given Post-It notes, and asked to write down a topic that they were either seeking to know more about, or comfortable sharing their knowledge of with their group. These ideas were grouped and arranged, and nine sessions were created. Each session had a facilitator, whose job was not to be an expert on the topic, but to facilitate discussion.
I wanted to go to all of the sessions, but ended up in three: Technology, Social Justice & Collaboration, and Interventions. I attended Technology because I thought I could share my experiences using Google Classroom. I attended the Social Justice & Collaboration because I thought with the current events that this would be an excellent opportunity to facilitate discussions with my students, as well as connect current events to some of my thematic units. We also discussed how to collaborate on these and other topics with your Library Media Specialist (if you are one of those lucky Kansas teachers who have librarians in your school). The last session was one I facilitated on Interventions for struggling learners.
The UnConference closed with all 30 people who attended telling the group what they committed to take from their learning back to their schools. It was inspiring to see how energized and enthusiastic everyone was and how much each person had learned that afternoon. Several people remarked that this was one of the best professional learning experiences that they had ever participated in, and I have to say that I agree. After the UnConference, I can say that I'm ready to tackle another year of teaching, and this year I'm buoyed with the knowledge that if I'm not sure about something I'm doing, I know who I can turn to for help.