June 11th, 2009

Conference Leaves Educators Energized and Inspired


I’m home from another successful Teaching Professor Conference and couldn’t be more pleased with how things went. For three days, we had more than 600 enthusiastic participants soaking up everything the conference offers. Whether it was the viewing posters after the keynote Friday night, interacting with new colleagues before and after sessions, or showing up for the last scheduled concurrent session, participants were there, sharing insights, asking questions, making comments, disagreeing, offering examples, and learning from each other. By Sunday afternoon, most of us were talked out about teaching, but energized (if not a bit exhausted) by the many valuable exchanges.

Throughout the conference I asked participants for feedback on the experience and heard wonderful things. Were they just being polite? Maybe, maybe not. Then I overheard in the ladies room three or four participants discussing how much they had learned and how valuable the experience had been. It was music to my ears.

I love how diverse this population of teachers is—from all kinds of institutions, some proprietary, some private, some public, some large, some small, some diverse, some not. And they teach all kinds of students—old, young, and in between, some ready to learn, others not, some well prepared, most less well prepared than they should be, some first generation, others from educated families. This diversity means that teaching experiences are unique but participants still find so many common experiences in their lives as teachers.

As we finished up over bag lunches Sunday, conference co-chair Ricky Cox, asked for group response to a variety of prompts. He ended by challenging participants to succinctly describe the conference’s take-away message. Many did so but none quite as well as the participant who said she discovered the take-away message in a session facilitated by Debi Mink and Linda Pickett, two of our invited back presenters. It was on their T-shirts. Ricky read aloud the message; “Teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible.”

With the 2009 Teaching Professor Conference now behind us, it’s not too early to start thinking about joining us in Cambridge, MA next year. Reserve your spot!