Saturday I had the privilege of attending the 2011 Reform Symposium. The Reform Symposium was an interactive, online conference where forward-thinking educators presented on a large range of topics. Beside the affective talks and ideas, equally inspiring was the notion that everyone involved did so voluntarily. Whether it be the presenters, the organizers, or the attendees everybody was there by choice and with a purpose. These are amazing individuals who see the need to make learning real and transformative. These are individuals that aren’t satisfied with the status quo and truly work with the student’s interest at heart. It was inspiring to be a part of it and I encourage you to check out some of the presentations as they will be put online by the end of the week.
I also had an opportunity to ask a question in the Parent Engagement Panel, which featured Monika Hardy, George Couros, and Amanda Henson. I asked them how to quell parent anxiety in regard to grades, awards, and such. Specifically, I asked how can teachers help communicate that there is more to educating a child than the grade. I was extremely excited to here George Couros’ response because he has been so successful in eliminating awards and marks in his school. Although he offered great advice, it was the words of Monika Hardy that had a profound effect on me. She said, “Be Bold”. I was so struck by that simple line I pretty much forgot the context she was using it in. But it didn’t matter because I thought it summed up the whole conference. In pushing for authentic learning in our schools, we must be bold. We must be willing to step outside the accepted norms of education. We must change education to rather emphasize the amazing learning opportunities that our students have everyday mainly through the Internet and technology. The idea of “Being Bold” refreshed me and I am pretty stoked to go to work manana.