Outside of providing a means of communication between forward-thinking educators from all levels of education, Lewis said ISTE will focus on providing professional development (PD) opportunities by partnering with other organizations that have great PD content.
“Right now we provide a lot of the innovative PD during our annual conference. But this needs to be expanded to sustainable year-round, cost-effective, PD with a focus on developing skills not just around one piece of tech, but really around the higher-order skills needed to manage a number of moving pieces in the constantly-changing atmosphere of schools today,” he explained.
ISTE will host a virtual conference full of webinars and PD in February 2014.
Even when it comes to ISTE’s notable standards, Lewis says they’ve been thinking of the human element.
“I had a mid-level educator come up to me during the conference this year and say she loved the standards but didn’t have the financial resources or staff to do much with them. We’re understanding that you can’t just throw on a set of standards and say ‘Here you go.’ You need to give helpful ideas on how to take this information from policy to action. And that’s what the community, and ISTE, can provide.”
One way ISTE is incorporating more of a focus on every member is through its recent hire of Wendy Drexler, chief innovation officer. Drexler, said Lewis, will help ISTE this upcoming year to provide more support to members, drum up community support, and try to help alleviate some of the anxiety educators are feeling.
“Everything from Common Core implementation to setting up adaptive testing, we’re here,” said Lewis. “We’re about the how-to’s and the advice, and the opportunities to share, create, and envision; to help educators get through the ‘initiative fatigue.’”
Lewis concluded the positive meeting on an interesting note, saying he had read practical advice books for schools and teachers written in the early 1900s. What was in those books was revealing, to say the least.
“There are many things in those books that we’re thankful have changed today–for example, the importance of the one-room school design,” he explained. “But there’s something wonderful in one of those books, too, that mentions what it calls the ‘science and art of teaching.’ What many of us forget is that teaching, or being an educator, is indeed a science and art. And it should be respected, revered, and supported.”
“Too often we focus on education in the future, but it’s so important to look back,” he concluded. “What would those respected educators, upheld by the community, who had so many hopes for what education would look like in the future, think of schools today? And of the way schools and educators are treated today? We are someone’s future. We should try and make those people proud.”
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