Can the unconference model work for a school faculty meeting? If so, it would provide real relief from the typical model, in which a series of administrators make announcements and attendee participation is minimal. The U Prep faculty gave the model a try last week, with positive results. Faculty members proposed sessions in advance and described them at the start of the meeting. Most of the topics evolved from summer conferences and classes that faculty members had attended. Faculty members chose what sessions to attend and held unmoderated, highly participatory and engaging discussions. During the debrief, a number of teachers expressed enthusiasm for the model and hoped that we would do it again.
The model does have a few inherent contradictions. People choose to attend an unconference, but faculty members are required to attend a faculty meeting. A planning group determined the parameters of the un-meeting, but many unconferences have little to no planning besides providing space, food, and sticky notes. An unconference does not attempt to reach specific end points, but we may want to see tangible results emerge from faculty meetings. Will these contradictions cause problems further down the line?