FETC: Sean McComb Keynote

These are my notes from the Sean McComb keynote at the 2016 FETC conference.

iWill: Activating Empowered Teachers and Students

  • @Mr_McComb
  • 2014 teacher of the year.
  • He discusses wow far we have come with technology. Imagine a clock representing the last 3,000 years. A minute would last about 50 years.
    • It took 49 minutes until the printing press was invented.
    • 6.5 minutes later the telegraph was invented.
    • 2.5 minutes later came television.
    • 1.5 minutes later the Internet was invented.
    • 30 seconds later came smart phones.
  • The rate of change has quickened!
  • We should reframe the idea that “schools must change” to “how can schools improve?” (and not just change for change sake) to “why should schools improve?” What is the real rationale for why schools have to improve? It is not just because other countries score higher on standardized tests.
    • Student engagement drops off over time.
      • 76% of elementary students report feeling engaged in work.
      • 64% of middle schools are engaged.
      • 44% in high school.
      • Kids feel tired, stressed, bored in school.
      • Kids will face challenges of social inequity (99%) and climate change.
  • Can we use technology to make learning engaging, equitable, empowering, and effective? Is technology disrupting inequity in schools?
  • Education technology vendors should have companies as diverse as their clients.
  • Learning should be interest driven, personal inquiry, and authentic outcomes.
  • He shares a recent unit from his class.
    • Gave students 10 topics and asked what they want to learn about. They choose racial, criminal, refugee, and LGBTQ+ justice.
    • “I am learning with my students because I gave them this choice.”
    • Daily work is small group instruction, writing, Skype/Google interviews, peer revision, and research.
  • Put “hearts before hardware”.
  • Hyperseeing: the ability to see what is not there, but could be. “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo
  • What can schools do that have the greatest impact: developing student self-expectations.
  • “As a teacher, I need to be in the boat with the students. There might be rough waters”.
  • We are always doing high–5’s in my classroom. The brain is more productive when it is positive.
  • How can we empower teachers, so that they feel that they have the ability to truly care for students.
  • Gallup poll: Teaching is 2nd most stressful job (1st is doctors), 69% of teachers are “not engaged” in their work, and are least likely to agree “my opinions seem to count”.
  • Teachers need to be able to rely on each other for support.
  • Teachers need to feel like they are involved in meaningful work.