Shifting Our Practice

For over a decade, NYSAIS has run the amazing Conference for IT Managers and Librarians. This will be my sixth time attending. Each of the past 5 years, I’ve been pushed. My understanding, my knowledge, my teaching – it’s all been pushed to a level higher than when I arrived. I joined the conference planning team at the end of last year, and it was then where the idea of an unconference arose. Why would we change something that works so well? “Well” not solely being my interpretation – but the people who come year after year are a testament to it.

So why change? That’s what technology is about, the definition even. It’s about advancement. When something better is possible, you build it. You buy it. But most importantly, you use it. Unconferences change the paradigm of a conference. It’s about the people who are there to attend, not the people who are there to present. This year, there are no workshops on the schedule. No speakers, no sessions, no tracks. Just open spaces, where a facilitator will organize into groups where we can learn and teach from each other. Is it risky? No. It’s been done before many a time, so no real reason to fear. People still will, but that’s not good. We need to be risk-takers are we want our students to be. Calculated risk tasking as adults so that we can bring better education to our students.

Some of the most positive comments we receive are about the exchanges people have in the hallways and over the lunch table. This unconference is about making those conversations the entire 3 days. Let people share their practice and learn from each other.

note: This blog post is a bit hokey – I’m not particularly worried about that though, because I feel like it’s truthful. Oh how these conferences/unconferences get the best of us!

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arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.