Scott McLeod over at Dangerously Irrelevant just admitted to walking out of a bad workshop.
Scott, what took you so long and why even think even for a second it might be wrong?
Scott's post is timely. I'm heading for NECC in a couple hours where I'm hoping to see some world-class presentations and keynotes. And may I stress "world-class." I have no idea what the ratio of submitted presentations is to the number accepted, but I'll bet it is at least 10:1.
I pay my own way to NECC*. That's $250 for airfair, $280 for registration, $500 for the hotel, and a couple hundred bucks for meals. Add to that airport parking, transport to the MSP airport and back, public transit at the location, and other expenses and this five day experience sets me back well over $1000. Money that could have been well-spent in other ways - like getting a new motor for my pontoon boat.
After laying out those kinds of bucks, my expectations are damn high. I expect both cutting-edge, meaningful content AND effective teaching strategies in every session. Like Scott, creating better sessions at conferences is serious study for me. And I've written about the topic before:
- A guide to better conference sessions
- Top ten secrets for a successful workshop
- 10 commandments of panel discussions
Quite frankly, I am especially appalled when educators show a lack of teaching skills at conferences dedicated to improving education. My expectations would be more modest were I attending a conference for, say, CPAs or dentists.
Oh, and please hold me to my own standards if you come to my session next Wednesday. I mean it.
*Even before out of state travel was banned for budget reasons in our district, I paid my own way. (Except when I was on the ISTE Board when I was comped.) Personally, I think all educators should always be required to pay part of confence attendance costs - have a little skin in the game as the saying goes. A friend of mine who attends conferences for people who supply equipment to events reports that everyone attends sessions there and that the session are good and attributes this to the fact that everyone is paying his/her own way. I'd tend to agree.