Monday, March 7, 2011

Reflections on TEDxNYED

On Saturday, March 5 I had the pleasure to attend TEDxNYED, and I have had several people say to me, "I can't wait to hear what you've learned this weekend!" As I sit here reflecting upon the presentations I heard and trying to write this post, I have to say I'm not sure that I learned anything new in terms of the "stuff" most classroom teachers might expect: ideas, handouts, websites, and the like. Rather than getting "stuff" I got 15 individuals' take on what education needs to look like for our kids to be successful in the future; they all shared their 15 minutes to change the world.

So what DID I get from my day on Saturday?

I got affirmation. I may be "just a teacher" (Brian Crosby and I had a conversation about this, and I think it will need to be my next blog post), but I am thinking about the same ideas and feeling the same feelings that are being presented by this amazing group of speakers. And I am the one who has the power to do something with my students in the classroom.

I learned about relationships. As I'm sitting here typing this I watched a short piece on the local news about how technology is negatively impacting face to face interactions. But on Saturday I heard many, many examples of how technology does not dehumanize. Instead it allows students to create caring, collborative relationships with others around the world. Hopefully this connected generation will be the one that can look past home-grown stereotypes, develop meaningful relationships, and leave a legacy that will make a positive impact on the world.
Check these talks when they are posted: Alan November, Homa Tavagar, Lucy Gray, John Ellrodt & Maria Fico, and Brian Crosby

I got a first hand look at the power of kids. Our system continues to perpetuate the notion that adults have the knowledge, and kids need to get it from us. This is just not the case any more. The kids can get their knowledge whenever and where ever they want to so schools need to be about something else. On Saturday I got reaffirmation that there is value in every single student, all students can capitalize on their strengths, and we need to help the kids recognize that they have a voice and can make a difference.
Check these talks when they are posted: John Ellrodt & Maria Fico, Kiran Bir Sethi (a TED talk), Diana Laufenberg (a TEDxMidatlantic talk), and Dennis Littky

I developed some realization. I now understand that we need to stop talking to each other, and we need to start talking to people outside of education. We need to get the message out that our students are more than just numbers on a test. Diana Laufenberg talked about this after we walked her talk, and a member of my PLN who was not in New York talked about it yesterday here in his blog. It is up to us: the teachers, the students and the administrators to stand up and help ourselves because nobody is going to do it for us.
Check these talks when they are posted: Diana Laufenberg (a TEDxMidatlantic talk) and Morley (you can also find her on iTunes!)

I gained understanding. This is not about tweaking what we are already doing; instead it is about doing something totally different. I hate to be cliche, but beating the dead horse is not going to make it work harder. It's just going to keep it dead. Innovation does not mean letting kids use computers to take their multiple choice tests; it means doing things in a whole new way. We're at the point now where we can't reform what we're doing. We need a whole new system to prepare our kids for their lives.
Check these talks when they are posted: Gary Stager, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, and Will Richardson

There were several other wonderful speakers, and I recommend that when the presentations are posted you take some time to watch each of them. As a teacher you may not get concrete activities that you can use in your classroom, but I guarantee that you will gain so much more.

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