This past Saturday my friend and colleague @Wendye40 hopped in my car and drove up the turnpike to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY for the TEDxNYED conference with the theme Connected. Instructed. Created. After some technical glitches and a short rewind we were ready to go with the first presenter. I was a little upset (actually more than a little upset, a lot distressed) because the wifi that was supposed to connect us to the world and allow us to be able to tweet and share was not strong at all in the  theater and was not even showing up as an option. I sat in my seat growing increasingly agitated as I watched my 3g spin and spin because I like to tweet during these events and I like to see what everyone else is saying. Unfortunately I was going to have to take my notes using pen and the lovely composition style program they provided and share my thoughts later. So, here I am two days later getting my thoughts together, ready to share what I learned this past weekend.

Presenter 1: Jenny Buccos (@globalcitiz)

  • Global citizenship is a critical 21st Century skill
  • Global education has mainly been foods, fashion, entertainment
  • What does it mean to be a good global citizen?
  • Everyone is a global citizen but some people feel they are only a citizen of the country they reside
  • You can’t opt out of humanity
  • Technology is erasing geographical borders

Presenter 2: Jose Luis Vilson (@TheJLV)

  • How can we as teachers and educators use our own voice to elevate our profession
  • Teacher voice should be nuanced, distinguished, powerful
  • We need to speak up and speak out
  • What do I need to do to advance my voice
  • We need to be advocates for our own profession (see related article)

Presenter 3: Juliette LaMontagne (@Jlamontagne)

  • Students need to be part of designing solutions to problems rather than just learn about a problem
  • The desire to learn by doing
  • Designing solutions to big global challenges
  • Project Breaker- unique projects organized around a challenge

Presenter 4: Jim Groom (@jimgroom)

  • We need to get away from crisis mode of education and invest in what it means to create and produce and be a citizen of the world

Presenter 5: Sree Sreenivasan (@sree)

  • “Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media”
  • With regard to social media, we should always be listening, not just broadcasting
  • We need to marry the digital and the physical to have anything done; if you want it to be successful, bring together the physical and the virtual
  • Hashtags amplify what you are doing
  • Social Media success formula

Presenter 6: Jamie Cloud (@cloudinstitute)

  • “Educating for the future we want with the brain in mind”
  • “Most people make sense to themselves” – Dr. Steven Jones
  • We get stuck in our own thinking
  • Why is it so easy to get stuck in our own thinking: fear, change is difficult, how much our status, identity and finances are attached to the old model
  • Results of being stuck in our thinking: “believing is seeing”, we ignore or can’t read the feedback

Presenter 7: Chris Emdin (@cchrisemdin)

  • Hip-hop based education
  • Using your Heart Inspiration and Power to Heal Oppressive Pedagogy

Presenter 8: Adam Bellow (@adambellow)

  • Passion and dedication can be infectious
  • You are the one you can control
  • Question the rules of the system and change it
  • “Fixing” education implies it is broken implying it once worked
  • The problem is the way we see school
  • “McDonaldization” of Education”- now we stuff kids full of information rather than having them make stuff (at least during the industrial revolution, people made stuff)
  • We give kids boundaries of DONT’S rather than tell them what they CAN and SHOULD do
  • Problems have not changed, the medium has (instead of passing notes, kids are texting)
  • Come up with questions then figure out how to learn it
  • Every learner should have an IEP (individualized education plan)

The day was running late and since we had a 2 hour drive back, we needed to hit the road prior to the last few presenters but overall I came away with an understanding that education is no longer “one size fits all” and as teachers we need to harness the power of social media tools and other web 2.0 platforms that will allow our students to connect, share and collaborate with other  people around the world so that students can be the architects of their own learning.

Just Be Flexible

This year we have moved from weekly scheduled “computer” classes to a more fluid, flexible schedule allowing teachers to have me and the laptops in their room on an as needed, in the moment basis. This is a change for some teachers who are used to having that time carved out in their weekly schedule because they at least knew their students were “getting technology” on a regular basis, albeit weekly. For others, this was not unwelcome, as they were used to collaborating with me on projects and having more time working together. For most, it was a little bit of both: distress at what they felt was a loss of a prep time as well as something added that they now “had to do;” and an exciting yet uncertain time when they thought of the possibilities and potential of having laptops at their (almost) disposal.

Before I had a set schedule and saw all 18 classes each week. Now I have a shared calendar that the teachers use to sign up for my time, so some days I see just a couple of classes and other days I am busy going from class to class from 9-3. Before I knew what I would be doing each day of each week. Now, each day of each week is different. Before, I had my own agenda and taught what I wanted, how I wanted to teach it. (please note: I used our curriculum maps to make what I taught relevant to what they students were learning in their class but when I wanted the students to create How to Videos, for instance, I did). Now, I sit with the teachers and we plan together. Before, I taught the children in the lab and the teachers stayed in their room. Now I go into the classrooms and sometimes I am teaching and the classroom teacher is assisting, and other times the classroom teacher is leading the lesson and I am assisting. Before, it was just me. Now it is “we.” Before it was mine. Now it is ours. I suppose this is part of being flexible. So far, so good.

This is a work in progress. I am learning and questioning everyday about integrating technology in a way that enhances and extends the learning, is fun and engaging for the students and is not going to be difficult for the teachers to manage.