The 2012 Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovator Forum.
Last year at this time, I was as excited as I’d ever been in my professional career. I had been selected as a first round selection in a nationwide search for teachers who are bringing innovation and technology in new ways into the classroom. There would eventually be over 100 selectees. We had been working hard at our school to develop a leading edge program, so that recognition was confirmation that we were on the right track. That in itself would have been one of the highlights of my career; to have gone on and been one of eleven award winners who would then represent the United States at the Global Forum was an honor unlike any I’ve ever had.
That experience was one of the most incredible in my life.
So, why am I as excited now as I was then? One of my fellow award winners, Lou Zulli, and I were honored to be asked to be judges at this year’s event. I’ve looked through this year’s selectees and the projects they submitted…wow…another incredible set of teachers and ideas. What I love about this group (and last year’s group), was that the selectees are from all across the country, from all levels of education, from all disciplines, and from all types of education institutions.(Check ‘em out) What that means is, despite what we hear on TV and read in the papers, there ARE incredible things happening all around us in classrooms. There ARE administrators who equip their teachers with the tools they need to come out of the 19th century style classroom and enter far into the 21st century. There are teachers who hear a higher calling and are not just wishing and hoping to change the world—they have chosen to be part of that change.
In a few weeks, I’ll have the chance to spend 4 days at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond Washington (I’ve requested lunch with Bill Gates, but that has not been confirmed yet) at this year’s Partners in Learning event. Of course, my main responsibility will be to work with the other 29 judges and determine the 10 most dynamic, incredible, innovative, and reproducible projects from a set of projects that have already been through a rigorous selection process. I can’t wait. I’ll have the opportunity to study in depth many of projects submitted by some of the most incredible teachers in our country…and then I’ll have the chance to interview many of them to find out what’s “behind” these projects. And that’s what I am so excited about. One of my passions in life is helping to change our definition of great education—to redefine what we teach and how we teach so that we are preparing our students to be leaders in academia, business, research, politics, and entertainment—to redefine what parents expect in their schools—to redefine how students are engaged in their classrooms. The walls that have traditionally been up need no longer be there; the time constraints that have traditionally been in place need no longer be there; the measurements and evaluations that have traditionally been used need to change; the expectations teachers have of themselves must change.
Microsoft has been instrumental in the commercial space to helping to bring technology to a place in society where the average person now has a wide variety of digital tools to help solve their problems. In the educational space, they have an entire education branch of their company that has not just talked that talk…they are walking the walk. They are reaching out to schools, teachers, districts, students and actually being part of “making a difference” all across the world. Amongst many ongoing efforts, their Partners in Learning initiative has reached millions of educators and schools—it is an incredible resource available to anyone. Join a world wide community that has dedicated itself to making serious changes in education. Check out https://www.facebook.com/partnersinlearning and join a true grass roots revolution that has been happening, is happening, and will continue to happen.
If you are an educator, and are in the Computer Science discipline and would like to connect — Please contact me! I am always interested in working with teachers from all across the world who see a different way forward.