Although teachers here in the overly-large school district have a couple of weeks left in their summer break, and the kids don’t return for another month, many of us are working to get things in place for the start of a new school year.

Last week we held the annual kickoff event for our school-based tech trainers and, for a variety of reasons, we decided to use an EdCamp format. Over the past few years I’ve participated in many of these unconferences for educators (and loved every minute of them) but it’s not a concept familiar to many in our group. So I was a little nervous about the day, especially since I’ve never been to an unconference where attendance was mandatory.

I didn’t need to worry. The group suggested a slate of great topics and everyone was involved in the discussions, including collecting lots of notes. And many took the rule of two feet seriously, finding the conversations that worked for them. All in all a very good introduction to EdCamp.

Now contrast that experience with tomorrow when all of us will attend the system’s annual Leadership Conference.

If the event follows the same format as in the many past years, and I have no reason to believe it won’t, the morning will be filled with speeches from district leaders, school board members, other politicians, and a big name keynote, plus a few videos and a couple of student fine arts performances, for 2000 or so of us in a large performing arts hall. In the afternoon, we’ll attend two breakout sessions, which will be slideshow-based presentations held in slightly smaller groups.

Two kickoff events, two opportunities for learning, two very different formats. Which one would you want to be part of?

Now I’m not saying we could turn the Leadership Conference into an EdCamp, especially considering the number of people involved. But there are plenty of ways our administrators could make the day more interactive and a much better learning experience for everyone.

It only takes a little of that creative thinking and innovation they keep telling us to use.