Name: Adam Bellow (@adambellow | www.edutecher.net)
School: College Board Schools
Current title: Director of Educational Technology / Founder of eduTecher
Selected accolades: ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award Recipient
What is your role at your organization?
I serve as the Director of Technology for The College Board Schools and as the Founder of eduTecher.net.
What is the best part of your job?
I get to work with so many great educators; from principals to teachers and related school staff, I really feel that this position allows me to share with and learn from a large pool of people. In the end though it’s all about the kids. I love the fact that by working with thousands of people, I am having a positive impact on a great number of students.
From where do you draw professional inspiration? How do you stay connected and grow as an educator?
Anywhere I see passionate students and educators I am inspired.
I am inspired when I see people going above and beyond, like teachers who come in to school to give extra help or run field trips on the weekends. There are tons of dedicated and wonderful professionals out there that really make a difference in students’ lives and that is what drives and inspires me to be better than I was yesterday.
I try to stay connected and grow as an educator by being an active member of social networking communities as well as making human connections at conferences. I love my Twitter-folk because they are a constant source of great ideas, links, and positive messages about school and what education can and should be. I also do enjoy the face-to-face meetings with people at conferences like ISTE or unique gatherings like EdCamp, EduCon, or the #140edu conference.
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
Collaboration is the most important 21st Century skill and it is something that can be applied in all areas of academic life. While I did “group-work” as a child, it wasn’t the collaboration that I am speaking of. Students today need to be able to communicate and work with people in a multi-synchronous digital environment.
In terms of actual academic skills, as a former English teacher, I would have to say that writing and being able to express ones ideas is a vital skill for students today because whether they do it in a short-form text or a 140 character tweet, they need to be able to get their message out there.
What does an efficient, effective educational system look like on a day to day basis?
It is hard to imagine one model that is right for all students, demographics, etc. It really makes me think about things like “Standardized” tests and “Common” core – we need to think about the system as what works for individuals. It is individuals, the students, after all that make us “the system”.
Some call is Project Based Learning while others have called it Passion Based Learning – schools need more of it. We need to give students real experiences. With the real-time web and the world changing on a second-by-second basis, we need students to worry less about memorizing facts for a regurgitation session in June and more on how to foster experiences that matter and allow students to create learning from educators who facilitate rather than lecture. I think that students need to know that what they are doing in class is not just preparation for life – that it is their life and it matters.
I also think that administrators need to play a larger role in the classroom. I like the idea of Superintendents and Principals engaging students in a classroom setting. We all need to keep the finger on the pulse of what matters most – the students – and what is actually happening in the classroom, not just the school as a whole.
In the end, what will make a more effective “system” will be people who care about what they are doing and are engaged in their learning – students, teachers, administrators, and everyone in-between. We can do a world of good by allowing students to take more of a hand in their learning. Students should always be at the core of any education work – because that is what it’s all about!