Last summer I wrote a post to try and capture the #EduBuzz happening on Twitter, throughout #ISTE16 and #BLC16. There was a lot of focus on Empathy, Mindfulness, Curiosity, and Connections. As I read through the tweets last year and listened to the keynote speakers, I could feel a sense of excitement, as everyone talked about the innovation taking place in education.
Well, ISTE 2017 just wrapped up, and it seems there is a shift from talking about innovation to actually implementing it into the classroom. And not just innovation in EdTech tools (which is great!), but also innovation in our teaching practices and mindset. How will this be done? By listening to our students and redesigning school based on what works for them!
Here are what I saw as the big take-aways from ISTE 2017:
STUDENT VOICE. Give students a voice. Educators have a responsibility to advocate for their kids. It is essential that we stand up and speak out for all kids, to ensure they have access to the resources and support they need. Jennie Magiera urged us to amplify the story of untold, limitless potential. Our students are capable of so much more than we even know. Reshma Saujani inspired us to be a model of bravery, not perfection. And, ask for student feedback! As @thetechrabbi asked in his Ignite session, “Why aren’t students being serviced as clients?” If we truly want to make school better, ask the people who matter most…the students! ISTE understood this, and assembled a panel of students to share what they want to get rid of in schools: homework, desks, long lectures, and bullying. That’s a great start! What do they want more of? Hands-on learning, and not just in science. Students are ready to start making a difference today; what they need from us is the time, tools, and support to make it happen! There is also a push to give students more voice online. From George Couros and Jennifer Casa Todd, we learned the importance of students becoming digital leaders and creating a visible, positive presence on social media. From student Ignite presenters to student bands, #stuvoice was loud and clear at #ISTE17.
TEACHER VOICE. In order to move schools forward, we need to empower teachers to make the changes needed. Many sessions focused on personalized professional learning (including my session about The Professional Passion Project). There was also a lot of focus on building a PLN and making connections to support teacher learning. The PLN Enrichment Framework is a simple, yet powerful, way to reflect on your PLN and take it to the next level. But, I love that Sarah Thomas encouraged us to build not just a PLN, but a PLF – personal learning family.
COMMITMENT. Being a teacher requires you to be “all in.” We are at a point in education where we need to ask difficult questions about how to best move forward. But, as we learned from Jad Abumrad, it’s not enough to ask the question – we have to be the question. Let it consume you until it becomes an obsession. And don’t be afraid of going into the German forest – a little gut churn is a good thing. Don’t feel like you have to change everything overnight. Be intentional and be reflective. As I heard from Vicki Davis, it’s perfectly okay to innovate like a turtle. Choose one thing and make it your mission, and connect everything you do to that mission. Using Chris Lehmann’s 10 word prompts will be a good way to reflect on where you are at and where you need to go. But, I know we can get there…because that’s just what we do. Jennie Magiera said it beautifully: “Being an educator is not just what I do, it’s who I am as a person.”
POSSIBILITY. From teacher sessions to keynote speakers, and from Poster presentations to vendors launching new products, the buzz was all about possibility. Now is the time to stop talking about what is possible, and start making it happen. Students have the tools to apply their learning to make real change. What they need from us is support. We’re not preparing them for the future…we’re preparing them for today! Let’s act on Jad Abumrad’s advice to look for the adjacent possible to get us to where we need to go.