Today was a truly inspiring day as a member of the audience at TEDxWestVancouverED! Craig Cantlie, West Vancouver Vice Principal and teacher and TEDx organizer, was the master of ceremonies at this event that involved 14 dynamic speakers–and their presentations flowed together beautifully. Kudos to the whole TEDxWestVancouverED team that also included Cari Wilson, Brooke Moore and Garth Thomson! (And thanks for taking care of us with gift bags, the tasty lunch and treats at break times!)
Here are a few big ideas I found resonating with me long after I got home: (Please note: I compiled and typed up this up based on notes I jotted down during the event and did not intend these notes to be taken as a comprehensive summary of the TEDxTalks–I could never capture all that wisdom in a single blog post!)
LESSON #1: JOY MATTERS!
Dean Shareski proved that we must include joy as essential to living and learning—joy doesn’t have to be a part of a specific curricular area to merit serious attention. It hit me in the heart big time when Shareski quoted Erica Bauermeister: “Adults need to have fun so that children will want to grow up.” Thanks, Dean, for bringing the joy!
LESSON #2: “WE BELONG HERE.”
Scott Slater talked about how learning environments are not just pedagogical decisions but a reflection of cultural values, and since we tend to anchor learning to experiences and places, those places should be magical…places to inspire reverence! The experiential program Slater is a part of is a powerful model of a community working together in harmony with each other and nature. I love their mantra: “We belong here.”
LESSON #3: INTEGRATE, INNOVATE, AND CREATE! (YES, EVEN IN MATH CLASS!)
Kelly Skehill is the high school math teacher you WISH you had! She shared examples from her classroom of how she engages students and makes learning relevant with real world problem solving projects. No doubt kids learn more in a math classroom that involves analyzing amusement park rides, designing waterslides, connecting concepts with heli-skiing, and planning their own “Dragon’s Den”-style pitches!
VIDEO BREAK: Sir Ken Robinson, “Bring on the Learning Revolution”
LESSON #4: MUSIC AND TECHNOLOGY IS THE FOOD OF LEARNING—PLAY ON!
Zoltan Virag, singing the praises of Christopher Smalls’ notion of “musicking”, proved why music is not a thing, but an action. Ever the consummate teacher, Virag taught the audience about cool new ipad apps for composing music and discussed the stunning array of creative 21st century music tools that can empower all learners.
LESSON #5: DIALOGUE MAKES MEANING!
Wise grade ten student Lauren Bauman reminded us of the importance of supporting students in making their own connections and forging their own paths through exploring powerful questions in dialogue with others—ah, a young spirit after my own heart! I’m with you on that, Lauren!
LESSON #6: BE A GUIDE ON THE SIDE!
Shelley Wright walked us through a beautiful example of how her students took charge to achieve a meaningful goal in a fundraising effort. Now here is a teacher who wears her heart and intense care for her students on her sleeve!
LESSON #7: A SCHOOL IS NOT A BUILDING!
Ron Hoffart challenged audiences to rethink the design of learning environments and challenged us with the notion that “a school is not a building”. It was fascinating to imagine with him more flexible learning spaces, garage doors between classroom spaces that open up with a button, and stylish and functional libraries that feel more like a Starbucks! I loved his metaphor of how school libraries in the past were like grocery stores and libraries of the future should be more like kitchen—places where the ingredients come together and action and artistry happen!
VIDEO BREAK: Sugata Mitra, “School in the Cloud”
LESSON #8: ASSESSMENT SHOULD EMPOWER!
Gary Kern challenged us to consider the possibilities of new, creative and more responsive assessment models as ways to free up real life, real-time learning. I loved his example of the NIKE FuelBand…makes me dream of new inventions for helping my students in their self-assessment process. Thanks Gary, my students and I will have fun as we brainstorm together futuristic new assessment inventions—hey, you never know where this could lead!
LESSON #9: THE FUTURE OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION IS HERE…IN SQUAMISH!
David Helfand shared the vision and practices of Quest University—which I am now convinced has to be the future of post-secondary education. Imagine: a truly liberal arts education co-created in intimate class sizes of 20, u-shaped desk arrangements, lead by impassioned “tutors” (the professors) who collaborate and co-mingle their knowledge to the benefit of students (instead of wall themselves up individualistic departmental glass towers) —and courses are delivered in a block system to allow for deeper immersion and focus! I happened to stop by Quest last summer when I was hiking in Squamish, and let me say, it is easy to see why some have found this mountainous, lush green, wild flower-painted setting close to loads of outdoor adventure possibilities a student’s dream come true!
LESSON #10: TEACHERS, SHARE WITH PARENTS—AND LOVE YOUR STUDENTS!
Chris Kennedy looked at teaching and learning through his eyes as a father of four. He made an impassioned call to teachers to find ways to share with parents and involve them even more in their child’s learning…and to just love the kids! (This moment, I admit, got me a little teary eyed). As the superintendent of West Vancouver, Chris himself truly “walks the talk” by connecting with the greater community through his own widely popular and personal “Culture of Yes” blog and his own impactful work connecting in and with his community.
LESSON #11: THE POWER OF MEMORY—YOU CAN HARNESS IT!
Tracy Dignum discussed learning, memory retention, and the power of sleep in moving memories from short-term memories to long-term memory. Cramming isn’t the answer…we need students to experience, process and make sense of their learning in ways that are meaningful and that will stick with them.
VIDEO BREAK: Shane Kocyzan, “To This Day”
LESSON 12: RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRACTICES—THIS IS HOW WE’LL HEAL OUR WORLD!
Katy Hutchinson’s powerful, beautifully woven story of courage, forgiveness, and restorative justice gripped the entire audience. Hers was the only TED talk during which I did not take notes—I simply couldn’t–I was too in the moment, re/living her story with her. I felt synergy with her journey and my heart went out to her and her children—I too recall the day when I was five and my own mother told me my father was killed. My father died in a tragic helicopter accident—an act of human error or fate or God…I don’t know…I’m still processing that loss 28 years later. Today Katy’s strength and decision to work to heal herself and others has lifted me in my own journey of healing. Thank you, Katy, for your tremendous gift.
LESSON 13: WE ARE IN GREAT HANDS!
Qayam Devji—Wow! What else can I say? This grade seven student is going to take the world by storm. Both Lauren and Qayam are great examples of intelligent, motivated and inspiring young leaders! It was wonderful to hear Qayam talk through his planning and revelations in the process of putting together a TEDXKids event. Best wishes to you in your tribesofhumanity.com venture!
LESSON 14: START WITH A FRAMEWORK—AND DON’T STOP EXPLORING AND SHARING!
Bruce Beairsto urged us to consider the power of a professional framework as a starting point for collaborative professional learning and action. It was fitting to end the event with his call to not let the powerful messages of the day fade away as we left the building…Bruce—thank you, your call to action is one of the reasons I wrote and shared this blog post!
QUESTION: WHAT STOOD OUT FOR YOU AT TEDXWESTVANCOUVER ED?
We all process events in our own unique way—I would love to hear from you about what TEDxWestVancouverED messages are still resonating in your heart and mind. Please post any thoughts below…or share on Twitter at #TedxWestVancouverEd
UPDATE 2014: TEDxWestVancouverED inspired me to apply and present my own TEDx talk so I applied for the next local event! It was an honour last November to take the stage at TEDxVictoria and explore the importance of nurturing children’s big questions. Here is my own talk, “THE POWER TO QUESTION”: