Realizing the Potential of the Classroom

I attended the Tech Forum Conference in Austin yesterday and  participated in several worthy sessions. The Keynote Speaker, Diana Laufenberg , presented on ‘Realizing the Potential of the Classroom and the Teaching and Learning Tools that Make it Happen.’ While I’ve been following Diana on Twitter for a couple of months, I had the opportunity to meet her in person and hear her story.  She is a 15-year teaching veteran, who most recently completed a four-year stint at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadephia, and is currently enjoying a sabbatical. During her travels she continues to work with teachers and students throughout the country, sharing her vision for today’s learners.

I want to share a few of the points made during the presentation:

  •  Our schools hold immense potential for authentic and experience-based learning.
  • Technology offers the means by which to elevate the quality, relevance and creativity of student work.
  • Educators and administrators have tremendous opportunities to think creatively about their practice and play an integral role in visioning that new approach.

Several things she spoke on support our efforts here at White Oak ISD.

  • We are a caring institution–we teach kids, not subjects.
  • Create a student-centered classroom.
  • Be Flexible – if you truly value student voice, they must know that their ideas can direct the path of learning.
  • Foster inquiry by scaffolding curiosity.
  • Be the architect of participation; Social Media is accessible–encourage your students and colleagues to use it.
  • Be less helpful–you want your students to research, investigate, interview, write, and create. So Let Them! In other words, get out of their way.
  • Reflect – you reflect on the lesson/unit; two or three days after an assignment or project is turned in, have the students reflect. Reflection is good for the soul, and it helps us see what we could have been different.
  • Embrace failure – Never send them on that they haven’t encountered some type of failure; learn from it and go again.
  • And finally–foster joy in your students through the learning that goes on in your classroom.


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