When I was in the classroom, I worked for a small rural district that couldn’t send us to large conferences, so I wasn’t sure what to expect heading to this year’s Future of Education Technology® Conference. But the moment I walked into the south corridor of the conference center, I felt an overwhelming sense of camaraderie. The excitement filled the room – to learn, to thrive, and to empower. Growth as an educator is a funny thing: in our profession, we are constantly told what we can do to be better by people who, themselves, aren’t in the classroom. However, being here felt… well, different. The pandemic gave parents, families, and caregivers a glimpse first hand into the challenges around equity and access that teachers have been facing for years. These challenges are why Class was created and why we, like so many of these companies, came to FETC.
Here are my three biggest takeaways from FETC 2022:
EdTech is booming… and for good reason.
Differentiating is no longer a foreign concept. At the beginning of my teaching career, to differentiate meant to move a student’s seat closer to you or to give them extra time on work, maybe add in dedicated 1:1 support. The idea of differentiation was not widely understood by educators, let alone the business and technologies that are designed to enable them. Thankfully, EdTech is realizing and adapting to the fact that learning can happen in more ways than with a pencil and paper at a desk.
Companies like BrainPop showed off their incredible digital library of interactive videos for visual and auditory learners. Active Floor reaches students that need to move while they learn through an interactive game board. Coding, robotics, and 3d printing are becoming more prevalent ways to enable mathematical development. For any subject you teach, there was a company at FETC with a solution and a mission to increase interactivity. This brings me to my next takeaway:
Educators are excited to grow, given the right setting.
Educators work with their students every day, and are the most knowledgeable of the needs of their own classrooms. Sitting through a one-size-fits-all professional development can feel defeating, taking the wind out of even the best teachers’ sails. Having the choice of which sessions to attend based on what was meaningful to the educator made them excited and more willing to learn. I sat through a session one of my colleagues hosted about creating engaging online lessons and asked the educators at my table why they chose this session
- “I really want to spice up my online lessons; I don’t want my students to get bored.”
- “I would love to learn more engagement tools.”
- “I feel like I could do better with online teaching, but I’m not sure how, so I thought this would be a great start!”
Not a single time did I hear anyone complain about something not being applicable to their needs in the classroom because they were given the choice of where to grow.
Walking into an exposition room like FETC (I think they said it was MULTIPLE football fields long), I found myself at booths saying things like “oh, this would be amazing for my little Johnny” or “I wonder if Sammy would do better with something like this.” It was exciting to think of how many new ways you can implement these incredible tools into the classroom. You couldn’t help but be inspired and feel the positivity in the room.
Positivity is 2022.
FETC was my very first speaking session, and I was nervous to share how and why I created a positive social media platform to inspire my students. I quickly realized positivity was the theme of the week and I was in great company. With so much negativity in the world, everyone was looking for something positive to hang onto, and we sure found it here.
Sean Achor was the keynote speaker, and he put into perspective why positive education is so important, saying, “Happiness is the precursor to success, not the result. Your positivity can influence your students.”
This is why I started my platform. I wanted my students to see that you can build something (in their eyes, social media “clout”) from nothing with positive actions, and that putting good out into the world will bring good back to you. Educators are just as much influencers to our students as the people they watch on social media. I think we all need that reminder sometimes.
I truly believe change in education is coming, and I am proud to be a part of a company that is working hard to change the way the world learns. Thank you for an incredible event, FETC.