Over the weekend of January 13-15, more than 30 AMC content coordinators from all over the U.S. and Canada joined AMP staff in our Detroit headquarters to kick off planning of the 21 Tracks, Practice Spaces, and Network Gatherings for the 14th annual Allied Media Conference.
We had a weekend full of activities and exercises to collaboratively strengthen the vision and language of each AMC content area, share critical information about conference structure, and build plans to ensure the fluidity and impact of each session.
DAY 1: BUILDING CONNECTIONS
Our weekend began with introductions and an ice-breaker activity called “Why/Because.” Each participant drafted on paper scraps a handful of random questions beginning in “Why...” or answers starting with “Because...” Some were serious and many were hilarious, but when we arbitrarily combined these questions and answers and used them as prompts for small group discussion, we found the conversation naturally gravitated towards many of the themes that drive the AMC: investing our whole selves, examining a life with possibility, sharing tools and tactics, and emphasizing the cyclical nature of teaching and learning. This was the beginning of our weekend of strategy-building and collaborative development.
DAY 2: TAPPING OUR COLLECTIVE BRAIN
We began the day by posting around the office the working titles and descriptions of each AMC Track, Practice Space, and Network Gathering and spent the morning poring over each other's drafts. We asked coordinators to comment, ask clarifying questions, and offer suggestions for collaboration. Our goals were to recognize and act on overlapping missions and visions, ensure that the language of descriptions was accurate and engaging, and to point out things that felt particularly exciting. Refining these content descriptions was a great way to collectively secure the foundation for what and who we'll see at AMC2012. Read the completed descriptions here.
Network Gatherings, Tracks, and Practice Spaces are the three content types for AMC2012. We placed the coordinators in brainstorming groups based on the content type they are coordinating, allowing for idea development, troubleshooting and skill-sharing specific to each type.
Tracks went over what makes a good session and what doesn't. They spoke about the need for strong facilitation, time-management, accessible ideas, and the reality of what can and cannot be responsibly accomplished in 90-minute session blocks. Practice spaces reflected on how to engage as many people as possible, how to plan for space limitations, and the logistics of putting their ideas into action. Network gatherings discussed logistical requirements and how to accommodate the varying needs in each gathering, open versus closed gatherings, and how to effectively share outcomes from the gatherings.
To make sure that everyone who wants to be at AMC2012 can be there, we went hard into grassroots fundraising planning mode. We reviewed the budgets and lessons from successful past fundraisers and started scheming how each of the 21 tracks, network gatherings and practice spaces will mobilize and resource their communities to get to the AMC. This year, AMP is providing small mini-grants which will be used to seed local fundraising projects to get to the AMC. Look out for dance parties, spelling bees, and other “fun” raisers happening in your town soon.
DAY 3: WINDING DOWN & WINDING UP!
After a Saturday night of Detroit-style partying, we came back Sunday morning refreshed (okay, so we were exhausted...) and inspired. Bringing our weekend full circle, we took time to learn about AMPTalk and other online tools for continued collaboration towards the AMC. We reviewed the timeline leading up to the conference and ensured coordinators who weren't able to make it our meeting had the opportunity to tap into the ongoing networking and planning towards the AMC.
Check out our photo recap of the weekend below.