I think my favorite part of the SOTF conference was connecting with so many passionate and dedicated teachers and administrators. It was interesting to hear how teachers and administrators from diverse schools think about teaching and learning for the 21st century. Some of the big ideas I gathered from Alan November’s keynote:
- Students must own the learning.
- Teachers need the right information at the right time. Teachers should study students’ questions to inform lesson planning.
- Peer teaching is powerful.
- Add purpose not technology. With purpose, kids will be more engaged and invested.
- Leverage the power of social networks and online communities to further the dialogue.
I also attended the panel discussion with leaders from Sacred Hearts Academy, Iolani, and Punahou School. It was interesting to hear how each leader’s vision for their graduates shape the school. One story that illustrated the concept of empowering students was shared by Jim Scott of Punahou School. Punahou has always promoted service – students lead various campaigns and spend at least a semester formally working within the community in a service role. Dr. Scott shared that a senior asked him why the school was not more involved in service, given that it is such a priority for its students. He shared that that was when he realized that the school needed to take a more active role in outreach and private-public partnerships. A powerful message – when we include students in the dialogue and listen to their questions and thoughts, the path for the future becomes much clearer.