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.

Author: David Istlandoll

David Istlandoll has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.