At Unconferences, Partners Lead the Way

100Kin10 Unconferences offer partners a platform to drive the conversations they most want to have, sharing their concerns, questions, or ideas about the Grand Challenges and their day-to-day work. These gatherings are participant-directed, with just enough structure to ensure rigorous, deep discussion. The connections and ideas that result often inspire longer-term collaborations pursued in Collaboration Grants or Project Teams.

In February 2017, Unconferences were organized by the Colorado Education Initiative (Denver), the Breakthrough Collaborative (Bay Area), and Maricopa County Education Service Agency (Phoenix). Each regional host led participants in co-creating the day’s agenda, resulting in a range of small, breakout conversations about the topics most relevant to participants in the room that day. The multiple perspectives represented -- from funders, to museums, to media organizations -- enabled rigorous exchanges of ideas, revealing new and deeper ways to approach shared challenges. To provide a taste of the conversations in the room:

  • One Denver small group session began with a discussion about how we can understand what teachers need and want from professional development and ended with the idea for a Project Team that focused on teacher-determined professional development.

  • In a Bay Area small group session, partners shared their successes and frustrations with recruiting high quality STEM teachers, especially engineering and computer science undergraduates.

  • In a Phoenix small group session, participants got excited hearing about a successful approach to help middle school teachers become more comfortable teaching STEM, and walked away considering how that method might be used elsewhere.