So this “High School’s New Face” Conference has been really interesting and another example of how the people out here in Western New York are working hard to move schools and education in a different direction. There are about 150 educators here with each school bringing at team of teachers and a building principal or superintendent They have been split into four cohorts: Engaging the 21st Century Learner, Connecting the 21st Century Learner, Designing a School for the 21st Century Learner, and Leading the Way, the last for the administrators. The idea is that the different teachers from different districts take different strands and then will get back together after the conference to teach each other what they learned and hopefully have meaningful discussions about how to move forward.

I’ve been working with the Connecting group to learn about the tools, and I have to say that despite some connectivity issues, they have been absolutely great. We did two sessions yesterday (the last until 9 pm.) two more today, and will have one more in the morning…a total of almost 16 hours together! We’ve listened to students from local districts and from the Met School in Providence talk about what good teaching and learning is. (One of the students from the Met school read an incredible poem he had written basically about how the school had saved him from drugs and crime in his neighborhood…it was absolutely amazing.) We’ve teleconnected with an educator in Kansas, and tomorrow we’ll be hearing from the creators of Tech Valley High. It’s just been very well planned and delivered, and I’m just getting a really positive vibe about all of it.

The 50 or so members of my cohort are already producing some interesting content too. Kim Moritz who is a principal at a local high school, is asking some great questions about her curriculum. Beth McIntyre is already reading and thinking and writing about what she’s reading and thinking. And there are others who are just starting. We have our own Mother Blog and a cohort wiki as well. We’re getting there. As always, it will be interesting to see how much of it sticks, but if the conversations and ideas are any indication, much of it should.

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