TED Conversations

Craig Zimmer

History Teacher, St. Mary Catholic Secondary School

TEDCRED 500+

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A summer conference for eductors.

Teachers are some of the biggest users of TED talks. Yet the main TED conferences are all held while we are needed in our classroom. There should be something that brings educators together during the summer months. Perhaps events can be held in a number of locations to bring more teachers in to the conversation. Perhaps have workshops to better educate teachers on using TED in the classroom.

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    May 10 2013: Craig, Many teachers have a summer job also. There is also the continuing education element that many teachers must attend classes during the summer.

    Using TED in the classroom is not a difficult process ... however, the problem is in the system. At least in the USA . The mandates of the federal and state authorities have reduced teachers options and require the full class time on a tight schedule to cover all of the test items. In short the teachers are now litterally teaching the test. The true power lies in the textbook publishers and test developers .. they publish a daily teachers guide to be followed that will cover all of the items to be tested .. teachers are required to stay on schedule. Further, teachers are evaluated on the students test scores ... again incentive to teach the test ... not to provide a learning environment.

    If I were to put these changes on a line and extend them over time I would see that teaching would become a matter of a facilator (not a teacher) following directions from the text book publishers and test developers.

    If I were to suggest ... I would want a meeting to question my unions on where they stand .... I would want to question the administration ... I would want more input on the evaluation system ... I would want syllabus input .. and much more. The problems are coming from the top but the solutions must start at the bottom.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • May 9 2013: Craig, I love this idea! It would need to be on a global scale, obviously, but would be more than willing to help out getting one going in the Netherlands!
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    May 12 2013: I think the main thing that I am looking at with proposing this type of idea is that for educators, and Lizanne a great educator doesn't have to be someone with a piece of paper so they too should be included, is the timing of the event and the cost.

    Most teachers just cannot afford to take time off to go to an official TED event or afford to pay to go to an official TED event. If I applied and was accepted to go to this years TED it would have cost me over $12,000 dollars in lost wages, cost of TED, flight, hotel, food (and the big gift for my wife for leaving her at home with three small children).

    My idea would be time and cost effective. It would give teachers a chance to have a TED experience. There could be a chance to watch speakers live, time the conference so that speakers can be beamed in from all over the world, and then have lounges or forums to share ideas with each other.

    So TED lets get this going. I think its an idea worth sharing.
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    May 11 2013: Bob,

    being in Canada we are lucky to not have to teach to a test. From what you are saying it makes it sound like there is little room for imagination and creativity. I have a lot of freedom to approach material in any fashion I want. This allows me to introduce ideas, concepts and material in some interesting ways. I can imagine that this process makes it very frustrating to teachers, who from the sounds of it, are not able to teach. Out of this I imagine has also allowed the very best to come out in teachers. These are the people who can teach to the test and still reach their students. The one thing I have seen in the 14 years I have been in the classroom is that no matter what insane policy, rule or "new direction" in teaching that comes down good teachers do what they do best. They reach and teach the students in front of them.

    As for my idea of a summer conference held for educators I understand there are many teachers who need summer jobs. Teachers are paid differently all over the world and that makes it necessary for some to work to survive. I am fortunate to make a very comfortable living as a teacher here. It does allow me the time to relax, recharge and redirect myself for the new school year. Summer is the best time to bring us together to talk since we are away from our classrooms and can gain a new outlook when away from our schools.

    We are not going to make any real change in education until we do a few things. First we need to change the way in which teachers are treated. Society claims to value us, yet often we are disrepected by parents, students and the media. We also need to give our teachers what we need to do our job and finally we need to find new ways to think and approach thinking. Teachers need to change and take that into our classrooms and to our students. But it is going to take support, money and time. What is sad, it is seems this way in most western countries, governments will not give us any of those things.
    Stay strong,
    Crai
    • May 11 2013: Craig, your line in your last paragraph, "change the way in which teachers are treated" is the single most important issue facing education today. I left the US teaching partly because of this. I am still in education, just overseas so I haven't left the profession.

      Teachers, at least most of them like every other profession, work incredibly hard to teach and educate. They do work long hours, like every other profession. They work on advancing their content knowledge, they work on their craft, they do the best they can day in and day out. Yet, at the end of the day, it is never good enough.

      No matter how hard a teacher works, they will simply not connect with every student. They will not have 100% success in their course nor will 100% of students graduate. And the teachers are blamed for that. Kids fight in the classroom, and teachers are blamed for an unsafe environment. Kids get bullied, teachers get blamed for not catching it. Kids fail, parents scream and blame the teacher. And on and on.

      If teachers were treated with a bit more respect. Told that they were valued in their classroom work. Told that they were appreciated for what it is they do every day. If each party in the kids life would take ownership for their part, education would improve dramatically.

      Is it no wonder that some of the best and brightest people out there do not want to go into education? Would you want to go into a profession that your best wasn't good enough, you were going to be criticized by most every party associated with education, and see successes ignored? Teaching is hard enough as it is. A little kindness and respect goes a long way. As does a little more valuing of education by the people who claim it is the most important for the kids.
  • May 10 2013: The expense of a full TED conference also makes it prohibitive to some educators, especially early in their career. I think this idea has merit, especially if you got on going then spread to other places around the country and world.

    Could you imagine bringing great teachers together to talk about the future of education in a positive way. Allow the educators to be open about all ideas and thoughts presented. Have moderated, open forum type discussions to chat about disagreements over issues, where voices could be heard and teachers could discuss conflicting views of education. Bring the research, not just the "good ideas" and put them on the table.

    Focus on the whole child learning rather than content and subject specific areas only. Of course, have subject specific content discussed, but hold that conversation in light of the whole child in the world today. What a powerful conference that would be. TEDucation.....I like it...
    • May 10 2013: It sounds like something that should happen sooner rather than later!

      How do non-certified educators fit in? Would you need to be certified to attend?
      • May 10 2013: Lizanne, this is a great question. I will give a "political" answer, it would be up to the organizers of the conference. ;)

        Personal opinion, if you are working to "educate" children, if you work with children in a positive manner, if you are trying to improve the lives of children, you should be invited to the table so to speak. Some people get a bit testy about certification, which I do as well for some things, but if you are going to work for the betterment of kids you should be able to attend. It would be, in theory, TED after all.

        Everyone has been through education. Those who wanted to attend would probably have some valuable insight regardless of whether they were educators or not.
        • May 10 2013: I agree, Everett!
          As a self-taught musician, I have found that in collaborating with studied/certified musicians, new and unexpected combinations tend to arise, purely due to the fact that my knowledge is based on my intuition, not on what was taught me. I think the same goes for education and am convinced that the perspectives brought to the table by people outside the system, but with a passion for teaching, would be invaluable!
      • May 10 2013: I don't mind working with folks who educate kids but don't have "the right paperwork" behind their name. Some of the best folks working with kids don't have the right paperwork. Others get a little twitchy about it.

        My one thought is that I find more value from those who have worked with kids and education than those who just want to support it. Meaning, if you work with students and educate them, you have a different perspective than those who have just been through education and have book knowledge. There is something about working with students that puts a real perspective to the context of the instruction. You experience would be valuable as you have worked with students.

        I guess my bias is that I don't want a bunch of researchers, who really don't work in classrooms, telling me what is best for kids. Unless they have worked in the classroom as an educator.
        • May 10 2013: Indeed! It's the difference between knowing your stuff, and KNOWING your stuff!

          I have a few years of experience teaching, and am not planing on stopping any time soon, but simply can't afford to go to school and get "the right paperwork". I've been fortunate that educational opportunities have crossed my path!
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    May 9 2013: I would love to get one going here in Toronto. I think with TEDs help this could be a reality. Imagine timing it so educators from around the world can be streamed into the conferences live. We can share our ideas in a new way.