I spent April 19 and 20 in Yokohama, Japan at the #beyondlaptops conference. International 1:1 educators from across Asia participated in the conference. The conference was very unique because it didn’t take the traditional conference or workshop format with keynote speakers. Instead, participants spent the two days conversing with one another and driving the conversation in whatever direction was most beneficial for the attendees. There was an agenda, but it was made clear that the schedule was flexible and that proved to be true.
At the conference kickoff, Yokohama International Schools Headmaster James MacDonald explained the thinking behind the conference. He stressed how the knowledge in a room full of educators is much greater than any one individual could bring to the room. I think that such a philosophy could help educators work through many challenging issues. However, it seems that professional development in this format is rather unusual. We instead often create rigid schedules and stick to them at all costs. I have certainly done so both as a teacher and principal. Those planning professional development may carefully want to consider some ways to take this more unstructured approach to professional development. It was well worth it for me, and the other participants who spoke with me about the conference.