Monday, September 24, 2012

Education Nation - summary from tweets

I was furiously tweeting some of the great points made during the first two days of Education Nation and felt like there needed to be a summary of the incredible wisdom from some of the smartest leaders in education! Enjoy - follow me on twitter @dave_saba

First the weekend was spectacular here in New York and the event was held at the New York Public Library. ExxonMobil engineer kicked off the Education Nation event with statement that we need to keep America competitive and our economy strong which is why they work so hard for STEM education with National Math and Science Initiative and UTeach! They did show one of their great spots from Let's Solve This.

They kicked it off with National Math and Science's UTeach Program and one of our UTeach stars, Trevon Jones.  He was asked about teacher evaluations and said that in his program he is evaluated every time he teaches and gets the feedback he needs to be a great teacher.

Other great statements on teacher evaluation - which came from teachers in the audience:

  • The training of those evaluating is critical to a great evaluation system
  • Students are "bustin' it at Achievement First in Brooklyn" so one of their teachers would have no problem having an evaluation that used student assessments for greater than 50% of the evaluation
  • There is a HUGE disconnect between teachers and the public on using student achievement in evals - it seems to come from a whether poverty is an excuse for poor student performance or a challenge that can be overcome. 
  • Poverty affecting student outcomes can be mitigated through a blended funding model with public-private money
  • Flint Michigan charters school doors are always open - to all students at all times - and they are NOT letting poverty be an excuse because their teachers are overcoming barriers
The passion from teachers during the Education Nation teacher forum was clearly evident in the discussion.  One thing is clear - there are clear differences on how this should be done but everyone here cares about students.

Common Core - was the next topic at Education Nation! (which we love since we are creating the PARCC Educator Leader Cadre)
  • 71% of teachers in the audience feel they are prepared or somewhat prepared for Common Core implementation  - the main problem is not enough training or resources
  • Why Common Core? Rehema Ellis responds that we are not doing it well enough now
  • Common Core focusing on fewer standards and going much deeper
  • One experienced teacher said she had implemented common core in her 6th grade classroom in Kentucky and her students loved it - much more real world and more in depth!
  • Another teacher looking forward to common core said - the more I challenge my students the more they rise to the occasion - that is what it is all about. 
Parent trigger and the Won't Back Down Movie was next up on the agenda
  • Stars seemed a little perplexed around the controversy of the movie
  • Fundamentally it is about how powerless parents feel when their school is failing and they have no other school choice
  • Congressman Miller tells audience that historically parents have not been welcomed by school districts which is why the parent trigger is an amazingly powerful weapon to get their attention
  • Women on the parent trigger panel says she is lucky enough to get her kids out of a bad school and into a private school
  • Interesting question: can the health of the school restore the health of the community or must the community health be restored before you can restore the health of the school
  • Union members (about 30) are protesting outside of the movie premier - pretty much living up to the stereotype in the movie
  • Viola Davis - the star of the movie states - "I welcome protest, I welcome discourse as it is the only way we have truly changed things in this country"
Day 2 - Mayor Bloomberg immediately hits the presidential candidates stating that "Somehow education has become a non-issue in their presidential election and that has to change!"

Condeleeza Rice: "We are becoming a two countries - one educated and one not" - - Variation in schools around the country is extremely challenging for military families as they are moved from base to base and that is not right (see NMSI AP initiative for military families for solution) 

Craig Barrett from Intel: Technology is a good tool but the teacher is the magic, Computers have disrupted every industry in the world except American education

Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children's Zone: We simply can't say that these kids re poor and have all these problems and lower our expectations

David Coleman: Common core will not be easy but great innovation comes from collaboration and that is happening in schools across America right now

Checker Finn: Common core is a heavy lift - but is well worth the lifting. If just 12 states are successful, they will force others to follow suit and it will have a profound impact on the country 

UTeach is one of the 10 programs highlighted this year at Education in the next panel - it was pretty awesome.  UTeach takes math and science majors and provides the pedagogy they need to get a teaching license and over 90% end up teaching! Great tag line - helping the best math and science students become the best math and science teachers. UTeach is now in 34 universities. Tom Luce, as usual, does an amazing job and UTeach teacher Trevon Jones is impressive. Dr. Bernard Harris, the first African American astronaut and a National Math and Science board member is great. 

Tom ends with telling the audience that National Math and Science finds successful programs that someone else invented and take them to scale to truly change the country.

The panel on grit was also pretty awesome - and not just because Brian Williams brought it back to the Springsteen show he attended that went until 2:30 AM  and they kept bringing up the military as the true example of grit and determination.
  • Praising intelligence to build self-esteem sabotages resilience. We need to praise the process to build resilient students
  • When you do something hard, the brain forms new connections that builds a greater capacity for learning
  • We have told a generation how special they are and they believed us. 
  • Brian Williams summarizes that this is "a disaster for the trophy industry" 
Other notes from day 2:
  • Gaming - the game is not designed well if the transfer to success on exams does not go well. It has to translate to student achievement that is measurable 
  • If one thinks poorer kids can't achieve they won't achieve! Success for all is a tough curriculum but it works and students need it now
"When adults fight, children lose"
"Dumbing down standards is bad for children, bad for schools and bad for the country - it is only good for politicians"
          - Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Carpe Diem
  • Digital curriculum is not just putting pages on a screen or having a talking head on the computer and blended learning means blending live and digital create something that is much greater than the parts
  • Carpe Diem flipped the school - not the classroom - students learn basic constructs through digital learning in one part of the school and then master the content in the classroom by going deep
  • Our current process has created a passive and lethargic student but digital learning can reinvigorate our students
Note to education entrepreneurs - if you can't get money for it, you won't succeed long

There was some great discussion in a great venue with people from all sides.  Looking forward to the big finish.