I felt so sad telling my students that I’d be absent on Friday. It was only the second day of the new project! I’m sorry that I missed this day at Innovation Academy, but I had a good excuse.
I’m here in Philadelphia for a different kind of education conference, called Educon. There are about 600 people coming here for Educon from all over the United States and Canada. The Educon website describes this experience as “both a conversation and a conference… to discuss the future of schools.” Their guiding principles are really exciting:
- Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.
- Our schools must be about co-creating — together with our students — the 21st Century Citizen.
- Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.
- Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate, and collaborate.
- Learning can — and must — be networked.
Our host school, Science Leadership Academy (SLA), invited hundreds of guests to wander in and out of classrooms today as a regular school day unfolded. In lots of ways, SLA is similar to IACS. In fact, a recent visitor to our school compared us to this amazing community where Barack Obama spoke to graduates last spring. Students at SLA are well spoken and complete lots of projects throughout their high school experience. The students have a close rapport with their teachers and they communicate openly.
There were also some interesting differences. Each student at SLA is issued a mac to use for the year. Seniors act as student assistance teachers, helping out teachers by tutoring younger students who need additional support. The school follows three simple rules: respect yourself, respect the community, and respect SLA as a place of learning. I’m thrilled to get a chance to spend more time in dialogue with SLA teachers this weekend.
I’m confident that I will be learning a lot this weekend! The real sessions haven’t even started yet, but I’m already seeing lots of opportunity. Today I met a fellow participant, Amanda Lyons, who is an expert in visual note taking. I met a Twitter celebrity, Tom Whitby, who brings educators together online to discuss critical issues in schools. And the city of Philadelphia is teaching me a lot, from my visit to the Franklin Institute to a glimpse at the first public library in the country. What will educon teach me tomorrow?