Whoa, what is going on? Are we actually in the midst of a digital revolution in education? I mean, I always liked teacher conferences when I was teaching at the university level, but they were never readily available for the rank and file classroom teacher.
Sure “principals and lead teachers” got to go out of town for a day or two, but not the rest of us. The best we could hope for during the 1970s, 80s and 90s, was an occasional Professional Development Day (or Professional Activity Day as they were called by some boards). Those activities, however, were usually organized through our local teacher’s union rather than the school board.
But, make no mistake about it, TeacherCon is very different. It is about significant, relevant teacher learning, in this case, dealing with the reality of the digital revolution.
So, what is TeacherCon all about? It is about making sure all teachers and children in Grades K to 12 are literate in the latest technology. For example, check out www.canadalearningcode.ca. They state, for example, that their conferences offer a multi-day event designed for teachers by teachers teaching educators how to teach web design, coding and programming in their classrooms.
Specifically, they give five quick points as to what they are all about.
Point One: It’s free. In fact, the TeacherCon organization even offers travel stipends to teachers who really want to go but can’t afford it, such as a single parent or because the teacher just started teaching. Sure, new teachers would learn some of the latest digital issues, but certainly not everything. As I recall, up to the year 2000, public school boards didn’t even have the budgets for such a stipend.
Point Two: At least least fifteen TeacherCon events will be held in 12 different locations in Canada during 2019.
Point Three: Each teacher who attends a TeacherCon will leave with a kit of practical tips and resources.
Point Four: As a mentioned above, workshops not only cover practical tech help on web design, HTML and processing, they also dive into the various tools introduced.
Point Five: Teachers, based on conference reviews, are really loving the process.
Now, if someone is reading this and they are not an educator, believe me # 5 is huge. I taught both teacher preparation and graduate teacher education, and teachers are notoriously hard to please. So, the workshops must be very relevant to get participants to take a car, train or plane to get where they are going and actually feel positive about the outcome.
I have been very critical of public education the last decade but this process seems very much worth everyone’s time. What I noticed, as well, in researching this story, is that Teacher Conventions are popping up everywhere.
Take a look at this Google page on teacher conferences in 2019. True, many are in the U.S. but for Canadian educators wanting to travel, there are:
- College Math Prepation, being held in California — which is currently so popular it is sold out.
- Get Your Teach On in Dallas Texas.
- Innovative School Summit in Las Vegas.
- Best practices for teaching literacy in Baltimore, Maryland.
The crux of the matter is that, while I don’t always agree with all the new innovations, some are very relevant to today’s world, particularly tech. Of course, literacy and math preparation are always relevant. In the Math case, which I have written about before, I hope old fashioned methods and drills are once again back in fashion.