- Academic Virtues
One speaker (Philip E. Dow) at the Association of Christian Schools International International Christian Educators Conference spoke on the value of using terminology to describe intellectual character. Educators often focus on intellectual skillsets and content or social character, but intellectual virtues are also essential for students to develop. At the same time that teachers share knowledge with students and model righteous behavior, they should also be modeling, encouraging, and rewarding the development of intellectual character traits like tenacity, curiosity, honesty, and humility.
- Mathematics Deep Understanding
At a small session Debbie MacCullough opened by asking why when solving two thirds divided by one twelfth you flip and multiply. The room full of math teachers could come up with some very vague explanations, but no conceptual explanation of why that algorithm works for solving problems. Math teachers often become math teachers because they enjoy the problem solving process, but realistically the skills we want to pass to students are based in a deep conceptual understanding that is currently only loosely passed onwards.
- Assessing Student Learning
In a number of sessions speakers emphasized different ways to use formative assessment to assess student learning. Of these techniques, the one that seemed most immediate was the Socrative app and website. What all these techniques emphasize are the ability to quickly track student growth over time so teachers can know exactly what learning areas to target.
- Future of Teaching
A speaker from the Singapore American School (Tim Stuart) shared that his school was approached by Google to allow two high school students to wear Google Glasses 100% of the time in the classroom. While he agreed, teachers asked if students would be allowed to wear them even during tests. He told his teachers “if wearing Google Glasses make the test irrelevant, you are giving the wrong tests.” That sentiment is a good indicator of the challenges and opportunities that teachers and students will have in future years.
Two teachers (Katrina Custer and Beth Duvall) shared examples of simulations they had run in social studies classrooms and various ways they served to enhance student learning. While simulations may not be equally manageable across subject areas, but recreating experiences in the classroom creates great opportunity for student long-term learning.
- Honorable Mention: Community Across Continents
The whole conference allowed teachers from across the globe to get together and talk. The knowledge of common struggle across the planet is encouraging. Lots of people teach at small schools with diverse student bodies and they understand the same struggles.
- Bottom: Packed Weeks Are Tiring
The conference was held over a few days and was so filled with events that it was foolish to try to attend everything. The conference was physically exhausting, despite being remarkably helpful. Of course, it was better to have a high intensity week than to make it take up more time teachers could be teaching. Overall a minor complaint.