What is the reason for this? Is it because schools cannot afford the costs? Perhaps. Is it that the program does not really support professional growth? Maybe. Or is it that we are losing the sense of shared mission and collegiality -- that it is no longer essential that we get together and support one another in the challenging tasks of Lutheran education?
It seems that our conference time has become together but separate. We join together at the same location but do that separately, connecting only with our own faculties and people we already know. In other words, we have not harnessed the power of being together. If all we are going to do is be together but separate, is that really a reason to have a face-to-face conference? Or should we be seeking to leverage the fact in new ways that we have incredible personalities and talent in one room?
Perhaps this is what those who do not participate in the conference sense, the fact that we do not clearly use the blessing of proximity for a few days. To that end, here are some thoughts on how conference time might be used to take advantage of this proximity:
- Be intentional about making connections with others outside our own faculties. Meet with people that teach our grade, that are experts in our academic disciplines, that have the same ministry interests, and build opportunities for these connections.
- Be intentional about utilizing technology to connect with these folks beyond these three conference days. Use Twitter. Use Facebook. Do what it takes to maintain these connections through the year in mutual support of ministry. Then, when we return to conference next year, it is much more like a family reunion.
- Use the talents of the group to build something for others. So often we go to conference and complain if we don't "get something" out of the conference. What if we were to change the focus to giving instead of taking? Can you imagine what a group of talented educators could create collaboratively for ministry? Materials for mission schools? Lesson plans and activities? An entire curriculum? Joining together to give and share with the church at large has impact and power!