Boston EdTalks, held during teacher appreciation week, recognizes and celebrates teachers’ expertise and creativity. As the name hints, the format follows the famed TED Talks, in which people address an audience for five to 15 minutes on an area of their expertise. The Boston Foundation’s Teacher Advisory Board selects presenters from a large pool of applicants and supports the development of each presenter’s speech throughout the spring.
For this year, the seventh annual Boston EdTalks, that support included coaching from public speaking pros. Educators are not unfamiliar with speaking before groups, but as Grade 12 English Teacher Robert Comeau of Another Course to College, says, “The coaches brought deep knowledge and experience of the TED Talk structure, and changed my approach completely. I’ve presented my project to many audiences, and have relied on slides. Going up without notes was hard, but the coaches helped me learn how to do it, and how to help my audience experience the discovery behind
Michelle Ciccone, Technology Integration Coordinator at Christa McAuliffe Charter School, agrees: “I’m used to presenting at conferences, but this felt different. The coaches said that the purpose of a TED-style talk is not to teach but to lay out pieces of evidence so that your audience has no choice but to agree with how you’re framing the problem and your solution. That at first felt scary and intimidating, but now having done it I feel like it’s such a professional gift.”
Another new feature of the 2018 EdTalks was the venue. WGBH provided its studio stage and production facilities, creating a big-time feel for presenters and comfy auditorium seating for the capacity crowd. The 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Sydney Chaffee from Codman Academy Charter Public School, emceed the evening of 10 talks, on topics from teacher development to family engagement, from better essay writing to recognizing trauma in students’ lives.
Reflecting on the preparation for the big night, Angeline UyHam, District Design and Innovation Coach for Cambridge Public Schools, says, “We presenters together went through extensive assignments, practice, transformation. We became a tribe, as we all experienced what it was like to be a very new learner again.”
That connection is just one side benefit of Boston EdTalks, as it provides a chance to applaud and share the work that talented educators are doing in schools across Greater Boston. “This is such an excellent way to honor teachers,” says Ciccone. “We felt like stars that night.”
Student stories are a rich natural resource running through the veins of our schools that often goes untapped. In this 2018 Boston EdTalk, Christine Gentry, Director of Teacher Development and Licensure City on a Hill Charter Public Schools in Boston shows how teachers can unearth this resource by bringing oral storytelling into their classrooms—explicitly teaching students how to choose and craft stories from their lives and then allowing them to publicly perform those stories.Watch the video
Quality instructional coaching is a critical tool for supporting teacher growth and, as a result, student learning. There are two common challenges to this: Consistent instructional coaching is not readily available for the majority of teachers and, when it is, teachers are not typically empowered to drive the focus of their coaching work. Jennifer Glynn, a Grade 4 Lead Teacher at Match Community Day Charter School in Boston and James Likis, a Data Inquiry Facilitator with the Boston Public Schools, have a possible alternative. DIY Coaching addresses these challenges by thinking differently about instructional coaching: It brings together communities of teachers and activate them as coaches of themselves and their peers through the use of classroom video. Here's their presentation from the 2018 Boston EdTalks.Watch the video
We teach our students how to live in the world, not how to change it. Pair that with the constant access to the unfiltered, harsh realities of our world, and we have a strange recipe for fear and apathy. In this presentation from the 2018 Boston EdTalks, Alvaro Peters, Speech and Composition Teacher at KIPP Academy Lynn in Lynn Massachusetts, shows how he was able to spin what had been a class on equity gone awry into an important teachable moment. By giving his students the “Knowledge of Systems,” he strives to keep them from falling victim to those systems.Watch the video
How might public schools capitalize on educators' experiences, expertise and passions by changing the way in which problems are identified and addressed? Last year in Cambridge a new model emerged that flipped the paradigm from obligation to inspiration so that educators could reclaim their swagger and take ownership of their own learning. Teachers Sharon Lozada and Angeline UyHam say the Design Lab, d. Lab Cambridge, reframes the way we look at issues as a community. In their talk from Boston EdTalks 2018, they say design thinking encourages us to see problems as opportunities and to collectively find solutions together, which makes it a powerful vehicle for local, sustainable innovation.Watch the video
From time to time, we all need a reminder of what happens to a child when they’re dignified—especially children who have faced adverse childhood experiences. They tap into the deep wells of their being and are able to draw out strengths that help them navigate their individual circumstances. In this talk from Boston EdTalks 2018, Regine Celius, Grade 5 Lead Teacher at the Epiphany School in Boston, shares some of the experiences she's had while working within a community that embraces trauma sensitivity.Watch the video
We all benefit when those who use the Internet use it powerfully. So how do we get there? Michelle Ciccone, Technology Integration Coordinator at Christa McAuliffe Charter School in Framingham, Mass. says many schools today take a "digital citizenship" approach that teaches young people to be polite and respectful to each other online. But we need young people to be powerful Internet users, and power starts with knowing how the Internet actually works.Watch the video
The five-paragraph essay is often criticized as a rote, unimaginative form that doesn't connect with students. But is it the essay form that is unimaginative, or just our teaching of it? Mary Dibinga, a tenth grade English teacher at Boston Latin Academy says a different essay writing process is possible: If we shift revision from an end-of-writing task to an early composing task, we can change students’ ownership over their writing and push them to deeper, more creative essays. Here's her talk, from Boston EdTalks 2018.Watch the video
Robert Comeau, a Grade 12 English teacher at Another Course to College in Boston, says students and teachers can work together to break the cycle of failure. They get stuck when they close communication between each other, and within themselves. In his talk from Boston EdTalks 2018, he suggests reflective writing can change mindsets and relationships, to help participants break free and grow together. Reflective writing uncovers trauma that needs healing, vents stress that clouds thinking, and reveals racism that demands counter-narrative. Make space for the whole student in classrooms through reflective writing, he says, and it helps teachers reach and adapt to the whole student.Watch the video
How do you define family engagement? Hugo Carvajal, PatriciaAnn McCaffrey and Mekka Smith believe it is the responsibility of the school to value and engage families. But too often, schools fail to reciprocate the trust that families place in them, particularly in educationally underserved communities. In this talk from Boston EdTalks 2018, they highlight the opportunity for schools to ask what families and surrounding communities have to contribute, and seize the role as a hub for social capital resurrection, innovation, and network strength.Watch the video
The most important lessons we learn to become better world citizens are often hard and uncomfortable. Because very few of us like discomfort, we often avoid those areas of discomfort and by doing so, bury many important lessons that we should be not only teaching, but also learning. In her presentation from the 2018 Boston EdTalks, Simone Miles Esteves, Middle School History Teacher and Advisor to the Director of Multicultural Services at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass., suggests perspective-taking through metacognition is a highly effective approach to teaching that strengthens our pedagogy—and our contributions to society—and supports the development of empathetic kids who will engineer and sustain an equitable and socially just world.Watch the video