Today, let’s talk about the edunomics of teacher professional development opportunities, pilot programs, and educational grants/contests that are outside of the traditional school district offerings. Is there value for students? Is there value for teachers, schools, and school districts?
Right now, my team of 8th grade colleagues are piloting a project with the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture (OpenAg) initiative as a part of an educational BETA program. Throughout the spring our students have built an OpenAg Personal Food Computer (PFC) with the goal of growing lettuce in a controlled climate following an open-source climate recipe for lettuce. This project has been a trampoline for students to jump into related topics - such as food distribution, food deserts, STEAM, STEM, traditional agriculture, innovation in agriculture, and the societal implications of this innovative technology.
So, how did this project come about? In 2015, I participated in the first cohort of TED-Ed Innovative Educators hosted by TED-Ed, the education initiative of TEDTalks. While taking part in this self-directed professional development program, I was given the opportunity to attend TEDYouth 2015 - where I met Caleb Harper and his team from MIT OpenAg.
The opportunity to participate in the TED-Ed Innovative Educator program led to multiple opportunities for my own professional development as an educator, and more importantly...led to learning opportunities for students. Meeting the folks from OpenAg in 2015 led to an innovative project for students (in a rural, agricultural community).
This is only one example. Look around at all of the opportunities being provided to educators. Are those programs leading to opportunities for students? Are schools and districts benefiting from teacher involvement in micro-credential programs, pilot programs, and innovative educator/certification programs? Reach out to me at #PitchThisEdu if you are an educator who was awarded a grant, or other opportunity, that transformed your classroom and provided your students with opportunities that extended well beyond the walls of your classroom. We would love to hear (and share) your story!