Friday in Chicago

The annual pilgrimage to Chicago for Tech&Learning’s Midwest TechForum. Thankfully the plane arrived on time, the drive to the hotel was uneventful, and the morning is underway. The first speaker, Clarence Fisher, was truly inspiring. A middle school teacher hailing from Snow Lake in Manitoba, he challenged the audience to shift from the traditional view of a classroom to what our students need classrooms to be today and moving forward. Points which stood out:

  • We need to get away from thinking about classrooms the way they have always been
  • Inspiration and pedagogy should be synonyms (thought: how does standardized testing and data-driven lesson planning fit in with that?)
  • The classroom should be seen as a studio
  • Our students need to get comfortable with the idea that learning/information is/can be messy.
  • Creativity is a national resource (thought: what are we really doing to foster that?)
  • We need to use technology to engage and connect our students with the world. Find the way around the “no go” zones.
  • If schools don’t change the way they offer education, schools will become sideshows. Students will attend and jump through the necessary hoops, but will get all of the information they need via the Internet.

A great keynote. Always good to take some time to reflect on where we need to go.

p.s. Listening to Clarence’s stories, I felt a tug at my heart, I really enjoyed teaching 7th graders. Not sure if I could do it now, but I sure loved it then.

2 thoughts on “Friday in Chicago”

  1. I love my middle schoolers…most of the time.

    I think that data-driven instruction can still involve inspiration. There are so many ways to get to an end result. The problem is and will be testing. Then inspired ways to teach don’t always translate to testing even though students know what they are doing.

    Along the same lines…creativity is not a national resource. Testing is taking that away and making it so that students can answer the test questions…and taking the inspiration out out of teaching.

    And that is making schools into sideshows. Put the creativity in, inspire teachers and students and measure student achievement in a way where they give you the answers in whatever way they want.

    Great post! Can’t wait to read more.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. My first Techforum and my first trip to Chicago and I truly enjoyed both. Glad you enjoyed what I had to say and I hope I was able to push your thinking a bit.

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