A TOTAL ED INTRODUCTORY NOTE:
After having written a few pieces for TES USA in the run-up to researchED DC, TES contacted me last week to request a wrap-up article — something general about the conference that could bring the series to a close, that kind of thing. I went ahead and produced the piece below this italicized note.
In it, as I hope you will see, I linked to some blogged recaps of participants’ researchED experiences, a touch I thought might illustrate how a diverse group of educators (read: not me going on and on again, for a damn change) view a researchED event’s learning sessions, networking opportunities, and general spirit. As this type of professional-to-the-public sharing played a big part in helping researchED grow from a single humble convening in the UK into a full-on ed-improvement movement being clamored for all over the globe, sure seemed novel and newsworthy to me.
TES USA, on the other hand? Not so much. They sent the story back. ‘With all its links and stuff, really more of a blog,’ they said.
Fair enough. A blog it will be.
In the end, the episode served as another example of why it’s so important that those of us interested in improving education use available social media, blogs, etc., to share what we’re learning and to share what works with each other. For just like waiting on district experts [sic] to provide the right professional development: if we wait on ed media to do it for us or to aid us in getting words out, we could be waiting forever. Way, way too many in the ed media simply don’t have the time, space, understanding, and/or interest in helping ed practices get soundly better.
TES is nowhere near alone here. Despite all of the above, they were far and away the most researchED-supportive of any media I encountered through this process. In the main, though, my researchED-organizing and -promoting experience was FILLED with ‘Sorry, researchED is just not a story’ stories. If I’m hearing ed media right, then, the idea of ‘Education professionals seeking to improve their respective crafts on their own time, being spoken to about evidence-informed practices by some of the field’s most respected figures (who donate their time and fees to appear), and using social media to cost-effectively spread word to other motivated educators’ simply isn’t much of a story, while pieces like this one and any number of stories about lazy and/or incompetent teachers are considered truly newsworthy.
I’m not surprised, as I’ve long thought it to be true. In the past few months, though, media members pretty much told me it was true to my face, over and over.
All that said, here’s the piece that probably just should’ve been a blog anyway. I wasn’t planning to put another researchED summary piece up here, but I’ve now got it so might as well use it. And hey, seriously: visit the posts linked throughout, follow the bloggers there, get to know them and their Twitter networks, and all that. If enough of us learn from each other, maybe we can do this on our own.
Two weeks ago I had the great privilege to work with researchED — the UK’s practitioner-driven improvement movement — on hosting a conference in Washington, DC, their second ever in the US. And though researchED’s conferences and international network of education professionals have made profound impressions on me for going on two years, the excitement I saw in conference participants and the near-continuous communication I’ve received (and witnessed via social media) in the days since may actually have lifted my researchED-thusiasm to a new height.
For in short, it’s clear that lots of people learned from and became intrigued by all the ideas flying around the event, and it’s clear that many of them are now connecting with each other like mad to chat further—solidifying understandings, debating perspectives, working out collaborations, and such like.
…exactly, in other words, what this researchED thing is all about.
Also: considering researchED’s fierce commitment to building and broadcasting sound educational practices (as opposed to emphasizing structural-reform concerns of accountability, school choice, etc., or any number of intuitively pleasing but unproven methods), the conference provided a healthy dose of exactly what’s missing from our education-improvement conversation.
I’d provide a general recap of events here, but I find it more appropriate to defer to those in attendance, speakers and audience alike. For if all this talk I’ve done about researchED conferences and connections have you interested, it’s really these folks you should pay attention to for confirmation and additional information, not me. My objectivity on the matter, after all, was shot long ago.
(Plus, it’s not like I haven’t put it out there already: If you’d really like to see things through my organizer lens, see this blog post at A Total Ed Case, this tweet-story of the day at Storify, or, of course, any of the researchED-gushing I did through TES in the past couple months. The TES posts aren’t directly about the conference, per se, but I share quite a lot in those pieces about why the researchED influence is so important to get established in North America.)
Below are a few summary pieces generously penned by various participants at 29 October’s DC conference. If you check them out (and you really should), do yourself a favor and follow these blogs and these fine educators on Twitter. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot if you do, and doing so is how we will keep researchED’s learning momentum rolling.
- ‘researchED Washington: If teachers want children to succeed, they have to look at the evidence of what works’, by Tom Bennett (Twitter’s @tombennett71: researchED founder, author, teacher, and UK education’s behavior tsar.)
- ‘Raving about #rEDWash’, by Optimist Prime (Twitter’s @polymathish: Canadian teacher and researchED DC guest; blogs at Of Possible Worlds.)
- ‘What I learnt from #rEDWash’, by Bryan Penfound (Twitter’s @BryanPenfound: Canadian math-education professor and researchED DC speaker/ad hoc tech support-facilities manager-coffee fetcher; blogs at For the Love of Maths.)
- ‘Mind Shift at researchED – 10/31/16’, by Lindsay Malanga (Twitter’s @LindsayMalanga: researchED DC guest/NYC-based education leader and consultant; blogs at SupportED Consulting blog.)
- ‘ResearchED Washington’, by Holly Shapiro (Twitter’s @RaviniaReading: researchED DC speaker/Chicago-based literacy expert; blogs at Ravinia Reading Center blog.)
- Relatedly: if interested in seeing how far-reaching and frenetically the intellectual feathers flew on the day of the conference, see this interactive map of conference-related tweet activity from guest Howard Greville-Giddings. Additionally, this ‘Hall of Fame’ may help you put some faces to go with all the Twitter handles.
So, it was indeed a special day and researchED is indeed a special movement. I’m thrilled to be a part of it, and I’m thrilled to see so many in North America coming together to experience the same. I hope we’ll be able to tell you about another event on this continent sometime soon. In the meantime keep learning, keep connecting to new folks, and keep asking the right questions.