Post-Conference Reflection: Wishes and Realities

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What I would love to have happen:

I write a succinct and witty recap of the leadership conference I just attended in which I describe the excellent session my Director, Steve Razidlo and I delivered on the second day.

I tell you in short form about the positive feedback we received both on the process and the content. I refer you to the Right Question Institute for details on the Question Formulation Technique we applied to Diversity and Inclusion, a protocol which is nothing short of brilliant.

I also describe all the wonderful people connections I was able to make over the two-day conference that began in small-talk and became much more real after the gala dinner, dance floor escapades and final hugs goodbye.

Cleverly and cheerfully I wrap up my summary of events with a few more happy shout-outs and acknowledgements of people, places and particulars that made my stay on the Portuguese coast memorable and recommendable.

The reality is:

All of the above is true. Meaning that all the positives I would have tried to describe and convey were significant parts of my experience. We rocked our interactive session for real. Folks learned something new and we take full responsibility.

It is also true that I experienced frustration at various points:

  • Three male keynote speakers each with an hour of stage time but only 45 minutes for a panel of 7 women at the conference’s conclusion.
  • In the choice of individual keynote speakers I noted a preference for education-adjacent men with strong entrepreneurial tendencies who mostly failed to cite women in their presentations.
  • Given that the banner theme was exponential learning, it was interesting but not surprising to me that the sessions I attended were steeped in deeply traditional sit-and-get models of delivery. There was a lot of talk about learning by doing with remarkably few instances of actually learning by doing. But maybe I attended the wrong sessions. That’s possible.

I struggled with an internal need to defend my right to be present as a real live teacher without a leadership title. And yet I persisted.

It’s a challenge to balance praise and criticism of an event when both are necessary.

I had to recognize that I was fairly close in age to the post-middle-aged crowd of school administrators but my dance-floor-self felt kinship with the young women who ran the conference.

One highlight of my total experience was talking with former administrators of mine who shared their learning and growth in a couple of key areas since we worked together. That made me hopeful.

The mix of messages about the future of education rarely sat well with me, even if plenty resonated. My relevance as an educator has less to do with technology than it does with my capacity to reinforce humanity at every turn.

After attending such a conference, I wish:

I had a time and dedicated conversation space to share my thoughts and work through my feelings in the aftermath.

I could find less wordy ways to say the nice things, while also pointing out the problematics. (I just made that up. I think that should be not just a word but the name of an urban contemporary boy band: The Problematics.)

That I could really rest well before I have unloaded my cocktail of mixed emotions and experiences.

That now this is done, I can look forward to real sleep I hope. (Fingers crossed.)

 

Notes:

The conference I attended was the Educational Collaborative of International Schools (ECIS) Leadership Conference outside Lisbon, Portugal. On Twitter: #ECISLisbon19

From our session proposal: Diversity and Inclusion: Which Questions Are The Right Ones?

When a school community attempts to engage in meaningful discussion of diversity and inclusion, how do we start? What are the right questions to ask? Using the Question Formulation Technique, participants will gain insights about approaches to D & I work in an empowering, replicable process.

And yes, it was a big deal that I got to do this session with my head of school. Just sayin’.

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Mosaics are everywhere in Lisbon and environs!