by Rob Bayuk
Education as a system, and teaching as a profession, is under constant scrutiny. The challenges of developing fair assessment (of students and teachers), of retaining good teachers, and the increasing student drop-out rate coupled with further shrinking budgets makes being a professional in this space challenging to say the least. Many wonder why somebody would do it.
One reason is that good teachers make a difference in student’s lives. They help students prepare for life after high school and to become lifelong learners. When you have an opportunity to see how teachers are making this positive impact and learn about what they’re doing that works, it is incredibly inspiring. Uncovering these positive stories and examples is something that is of less interest to the media and mainstream discussion, but critical to success in the field.
At Microsoft we host an annual forum that last year attracted 250,000 innovative teachers from around the world. The forum’s primary goal is to seek-out innovation happening in the classroom, recognize the educators leading these innovative practices and sharing their practices with the education community and beyond.
The forum is truly unique in that we are able to attract educators from around the world to share their ideas and create a venue where teacher best practices and innovation are acknowledged, and moreover, celebrated. That is the goal of the Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum, to seek out innovative educators and to provide a forum for sharing their work in a professional learning setting, collaborating with like-minded educators from across the U.S. and ultimately world.
The forum is open to all U.S.-based K-12 educators. The application process is simple: determine a classroom project or activity that is positively impacting student learning where technology plays a critical role, describe the project in the online application and submit it.
A project can be submitted as a team of two or as an individual (and yes, a Microsoft technology needs to be part of that mix, the more the better!) whether it’s PowerPoint, Word, Excel, OneNote, Bing, Movie Maker or some combination of these or the many free tools we make available for teachers and students (yes, we still love those PhotoStory projects!).
If you’re a computer science, technology or graphics design teacher using Microsoft tools and your application is accepted you will win an Xbox360+Kinect for your school!
Additionally, we encourage school and district leaders to submit applications based on technology programs that impact the broader school community, for example this could be an innovative professional development program, 1:1 program or perhaps a social media effort that is positively impacting the broader school community.
If your application is accepted you will be invited to attend a unique 2-day professional learning event at Microsoft’s worldwide campus in Redmond, WA July 31-Aug 1. At the event you will share your work, collaborate with like-minded educators and engage in professional development activities (and have a little fun too!).
At the forum all projects will be evaluated by a carefully selected group of education leaders and the finalists from this group will go on to participate in the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Athens, Greece in November 2012 (and Microsoft picks-up the tab for all of this).
Hope to see you there!
Microsoft Partners in Learning