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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Edcamp Boston Thoughts and Reflections

I attended #edcamp Boston at the beautiful Microsoft space in Burlington today. I was surrounded by dedicated educators who were brought together by the dedicated volunteer effort of a number of educators noted to the right. They don't have to spend their free time putting an event like this together, but they do and that makes a positive difference for many. I am grateful to their time and talent.

As typical of edcamps I have a large number of takeaways that I want to explore, but as atypical, I left a bit discouraged today because good education can't just be a volunteer effort--there has to be the support of the greater community to uplift our schools to be dynamic places where students come together to learn and apply their learning in meaningful ways every day. The educators at today's event are doing an awesome job to uplift education for each and every student--it was amazing to hear about the efforts in place, but it's clear we need more support from taxes and governmental agencies to create an education system that is top-notch, the kind of education system where children learn in environments like the terrific Microsoft space, and the kind of education system where there is enough funding and enough people to put into place what we now know about optimal teaching and learning, the kind of teaching and learning that changes lives and builds great nations.

Schools today need good spaces, adequate staffing, time for professional learning, and better organizational/leadership systems so that educators have the autonomy, collaboration, and support that gives them the needed voice and choice to work with all stakeholders to serve children well. At this point in history, what is holding schools back is a lack of adequate funding and support. Educators are ready to apply all that they know and learn, but lack of good supports is slowing down the potential development.

So as I heard about so many terrific ways to support students, I wondered about how I would get the time and support to implement those ideas. Ideas that include the following:
  • A shift in science teaching from understanding scientific knowledge, facts, and ideas as intentional to probabilistic. 
  • Teaching that demonstrates greater understanding of and connection to cognitive research.
  • Deep understanding of cognitive dissonance, and application of that knowledge in order to build stronger teams and embed optimal change.
  • Greater use of assistive technology and one-to-one supports to help students gain essential skills in meaningful and useful ways.
  • Reading and applying the information of so many great books such as A More Beautiful Question and The Human Side of School Change.
  • Use of studio habits of mind to build better learning and application
  • Learning more about computational thinking via the use of SCRATCH with interdisciplinary application and as a storytelling tool.
I want schools to continue to develop in dynamic ways. There has been significant positive change where I teach, but there is definitely room for continued growth and development, and I believe that will come from greater teacher leadership, collaboration, and autonomy--it is essential that organizations continue to rethink roles, structure, and efforts so that we can best serve students as the world changes around us. There's a great deal of positive change happening in education and there is room for more. I believe most teachers are working around the clock to serve students well. Many like the organizers of this edcamp are devoting significant time to positive development. Now we need the greater community and governmental leaders to stand up to fund schools adequately so that we can serve every child well--this funding should be aimed at adding more skilled staff to all schools, improving school environments including both buildings and the land around the buildings, and providing adequate time and support for professional learning as well as the use of updated tools and teaching strategies.

As always I can see far more than I can do, but I recognize that getting better and doing more is a step-by-step endeavor. Onward.