It’s now a few days since my presentation at TechForum Northeast, and judging by the lack of hate-mail or the searches I’ve conducted on all the available backchannels, I didn’t offend anyone too greatly. Although, by traditional standards, I may just be the worst presenter ever.
I have to admit, and I did so to open the session, presenting at EduCon has changed the way I view conferences. The format asked for at EduCon, from the start, has been conversational; the standard role of presenter is completely changed to that of facilitator, and that changes the way you prepare. Personally, it becomes a situation in which I completely invert the presenter-presentee experience. Instead of pursuing the traditional “I speak, you listen” model, the ruling ethos has become
The smartest person in the room, is the room.
As I have prepared for the last few presentations I have given I am forced to keep asking the same question: How do you get a group of concerned educators together in a room and just deliver the message are asked to deliver without turning them loose on one another?
Very simply, you don’t.
You ask pointed questions, and then listen, and listen very closely to what they say.
Think about where you are when you give a presentation, or view a presenter at a conference. You are in the company of many passionate educators, those passionate enough to travel a distance to learn more about their craft, and most likely lose class time with their students. Who holds the knowledge in that situation? The speaker? perhaps. But what I am banking on when I present, and this may cancel every proposal I submit over the next few months, is that the best information you will gain from being at a conference is from the people who are there attending alongside you.
That is not to say that I have no role in the learning that goes on in these presentations. There had to have been something in the idea I had in pitching the presentation in the first place, and there had to be some direction in which I intended the pretty slides I prepared to move in, right?
But would I have ditched all of it to have a great conversation about how to make the schools we work in into the schools we want to work in? You bet. My role for them was to put in place the interaction pieces so that they could construct something of value for themselves.
This model should sound familiar…but does it?
“January 25th 2008 – The word for the day is “knowledge”, pass it on,” Stephen Poff
“The Seven Principles of Learning,” dkuropatwa’s set on Flickr