Saturday, June 28, 2014

ISTE Recap - Day 1 - Who Is Standing On The Shoulders Of Teacherpreneurs?

Source: ISTE
Most conferences by their nature host an eager pool of participants. Without some authentic interest, why else would individuals sacrifice their time and dollars for days of intensive workshops? The Twitterverse and the edtech sphere, however, seem to reserve a special place for ISTE, the annual see-and-be-seen summit staged by the International Society For Technology In Education. This year’s #ISTE2014 network is no exception, with a zealous crowd of conference goers expected to top 20,000. There is even a trending #notatiste14 thread to loop in curious parties unable to visit Atlanta. And with the lines for the first ISTE Ignite session as a prime indication, it’s going to be a convivial, congested weekend.

If attendance ratios are anything like last year, though, only 19 percent of ISTE attendees will be actual PK - 12 teachers. The rest will be split among tech coordinators, administrators, consultants, media specialists, and "others." Perhaps this diverse turnout is beneficial toward nurturing a melting pot of tech ideas and professional experiences. But perhaps there is a downside to this relatively low presence of classroom educators at a convention intended to improve education.

Source: CTQ
On the plane from Douglas to Hartsfield, we read Teacherpreneurs: Innovative Teachers Who Lead But Don't Leave (Jossey-Bass, 2013) by Barnett Berry, Ann Byrd, and Alan Weider of the Center For Teaching Quality (CTQ). These writers ask whether there is a genuine career trajectory for teachers to become school leaders while still remaining in the classroom. They pinpoint four waves of teacher leadership in both formal and informal structures. 

Yet the book also identifies two institutional impediments to these kinds of leadership roles: “egg-crate” schools, in which teachers are separated into cordoned-off rooms of solo instruction, and  “crab-bucket” schools, in which teachers are pitted against each other to impress administrators and claw to the top of the heap. Both models stifle voices that might encourage creativity. 

If entrepreneurs are those optimistic business-types who thrive on risks and self-reliance, then teacherpreneurs are those agile mobilizers who encourage democratic deliberation and digital ubiquity. Most schools, however, do not recognize this evolving and nuanced educator mantle. In other words, there is not currently a familiar, accurate name for the type of teacher-leader who continues as a daily classroom instructor while also inspiring change among colleagues, administrators, districts, policies, and social media PLNs. 

Source: ASIDE, 2014

One idea from this evening’s ISTE keynote session is to station in a school’s faculty lounge a savvy teacher who can be “on call” to answer both small and large tech questions. For one class period, for as many mentors as possible, a trusted colleague might be more approachable for fellow faculty to ask for help. On the school’s part, the key is to build this tech mentor role into the teacher-leaders’ schedules and compensate them in the form of salary, reduced duties, or equally as meaningful ways. Entrepreneurship is not charity, ask any businessperson, and neither is teaching.

Perhaps the reason ISTE, and other favorites like NYSCATE, have struck such chords among forward-thinking pedagogues is that these types of teacher-leaders are exactly the people who attend these conferences. They soak in the progressive philosophies and emerging tools and bring those revelations back to their communities. Every single person we met today was a sharer, an experimenter, a wonderer, a pioneer, a doer, and an ally. These are the types of people who need to stake careers in the classroom to helm their schools and to engender innovation.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I will have to get this book. It sounds similar to the idea in another book I'm reading: Startup Style Learning...very interesting ideas!

  2. Looks like a great book! Will definitely be part of my summer reading...

  3. Good for test preparation and helpful for getting good grades. And some perfect
    free sat classes books give the Best results.

  4. Its all very helpful, thanks so much for sharing this.


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