Unconference= Success!


A social studies teacher adds his ideas to the Unconference ideas board.

At this year’s first Unconference, ten teacher-learners representing grades K-16 gathered to discuss educational issues that mattered to them.

The day began with a lively chat about preventing teacher burnout. All at different stages in our careers, we talked about the importance of getting teachers to their fifth year of teaching, ways to help teachers become master teachers, and the need for offering support to teachers at the end of their career. The conversation began as a rather depressing one as we explored why teachers reach the burnout phase. Soon, though, the conversation turned towards what can be done to prevent burnout as we all shared ways we’ve battled this phenomenon in our own careers.

Next we went back to the brainstorming board to choose our conversation topics for the next session. The large group split into two small groups with conversations focused on supporting writing in other subject areas and success stories (What is success? Who defines it?). After an hour, we met back as a large group to summarize our conversations. We concluded by sharing resources, swapping book titles, and exchanging contact information.

Judging by the liveliness of the group, it was clear to me that these conversations needed to happen. There is something powerful about teachers discussing what matters to them. Far too often our conversations are dictated by “higher-ups.” As I watched teachers leave Andrews Hall, it appeared each one walked a little taller; perhaps it was the free donuts…but I believe each one left refreshed and proud to be a teacher. Needless to say, we’ll be doing this again next year.

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