On 11/10/18 at 8:55am, I attended the Great Teacher’s Conference Opening Keynote at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, NC presented by Wake Technical Community College
Great Teacher’s Conference Keynote
3rd annual Kelly markson, caralyn house, meghan macintyre, alison consol, lead coordinator from RTP Campus.
After a short Intro with our group facilitators and team members, we began the discovery process. We paired up with one another based on our years of experience. We began by creating a line with members at one end (half a year) and in the other end with the longest teachers (27.5 years!). We then paired up. Rather than folding the line in half, in a method similar to DNA replication, the line split and moved in opposite directions around the room, meeting again on the far side of the room. Both halves of the line met in a handshake, reconnecting to learn about one another. My partner was Mark DeCain.
After getting to know one another, we then had to introduce each other in a fashion similar to a tweet format in 160 characters.
Mark has my same birthday. His tweet intro was “Tinkerer, Father, Insatiably Curious.” My introduction was “Father, Standard Nerd, No Hobbies”. We later Learned that our partners would then be our lunch dates.
We are a very diverse group on individuals, and have a lot to learn about one another over the next two days. We were encouraged to turn off and put away our cell phones, and to visit the reading library at the back of the classroom. We were also further encouraged to take notes between sessions in addition to the materials in session.
Learn from one another.
We’ll have a final examination at the end, and we’ll want to jot down “which things make a great teacher” so you can use that to complete your final exam
David Godfrey started in the 1970. He did not know how to teach effectively and he has built a program like this to learn more. It is all over the nation, and has been adapted to an international movement. The Council of Excellence was charged by Bryan Ryan to “increase excellence” at the college. The Great Teachers Conference was an existing item that they visited in 2016 and found how excellent the idea was. This is the third annual seminar, and is funded moving forward for several years. This “energizes faculty” as noted by dr. Gayle Green.
Teaching is difficult and you’ll only learn as set of working best practices from one another. This conference is for teachers only, those down in the trenches. Experts are not invited. They are not welcome here. The keynote today is not a single idea. The power is in diversity. We’ll be kicking around outside of our departments. We have Professional Development to learn different ideas, but we can use this opportunity to get to know a larger more diverse group of people within the school, and get to know them better.
You Are Encouraged To Write Thank You Letters.
While we are here, we have been encouraged to think deeply about our situation, our performance in the classroom, what we’ve learned while we’re here, and what we’ll be able to bring back to the classroom. We are also encouraged- if we feel the spirit- to write letters if we like it. It can be forwarded on, compiled, etc. to the powers that be which make this a reality. They appreciate the feedback and this really keeps the conference going.
Less is more.
The following was given to us from Jason Whitehead
“There is no pre-planned agenda. It is made as simple as possible so that we can have a flowing agenda. There is no “this is what you need” keynote. It has to be uncovered as you go. We’ll let you know where to go and what you’ll do. Food is here, rooms are here. How can we teach a little bit made well? If we all increase a small amount each week, we’ll do better.
“This seminar is about you, and every one of us has their own flavors. Pick and choose. Today we’ll share our innovations, lunch will follow at 11:30 in Debose Hall, and then back here at 12:30pm. Tonight we’ll be working on tricks of the trade, but for now, lets live in the moment.
“We come from different parts of the college, but we can share ideas, stealing like a ninja. Adjust ideas to share in your class. There is NO need for humble apologies. We’ll run in 10 minute increments, so be ready to talk and listen.”
- Thou shalt provide equal time- if you drone on, shut up. You can always continue conversations with others. Talk often, but do not dominate.
- No whining, griping, or telling war stories. Whining is complaining, griping is when two people are complaining together. War Stories are told trying to outdo one another.
- Thou shalt mutually enforce these commandments. We police ourselves. Don’t take things personally.
Remember, this conference is about you. Our facilitators will be doing the listening and not talking. You cannot listen and talk at the same time. They are listening, teachers should be talking and discussing. Don’t engage the facilitators, focus on the groups and group members.