Encouraging Ideas and Inspiring Educators: The Ideas in Education Festival 2016 at the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning

Mercedes Lemp, Director of Programs at the Crimsonbridge Foundation April 2016

With standards and testing dictating K-12 curriculums, it doesn’t always seem that educators are encouraged to think out of the box in finding ways to help students learn. This is not the case at the Ideas in Education Festival, sponsored by The Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning (CTTL). The Festival brings together educators from traditional public and charter, parochial, and independent schools who rarely have the opportunity to collaborate. It asks educators to share their best “out-of-the-box” ideas, methods, tools, and innovations. The festival also focuses on how to get those ideas into the hands of more teachers and school leaders, while also informing the thinking of policy makers and those interested in funding innovations in education.

In addition to hearing from incredibly insightful high-school students, presenters included innovators in the field such as Vanessa Rodriguez, an awardee of the prestigious Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching and the founder of the Teaching Brain Project, which conducts studies utilizing cutting edge two-person neuroscience technologies.

While the underlying theme of the festival was understanding how the brain works and the impact that should have on teaching, a related message prevalent throughout the day was the need for educators to know themselves and to really know their students–meeting them where they are, academically and emotionally. Presenter Eric Westendorf, Founder and CEO of LearnZillion, noted how recent research is reinforcing that learning is about the connections being made in the brain. Knowing this, it makes sense that classrooms be centered on the students rather than teacher-centric. Participants stressed the value of innovating as no one solution is effective in all settings.

The Festival also hosts a grant competition to encourage idea development and implementation. Collaboration Grants are designed for school teachers and leaders to work together to incubate, grow, and share an idea that benefits their students, schools, or professional community. Up to five $1000 grants will be awarded to participants, through support from the Crimsonbridge Foundation.

Only in its second year, this day-long festival had tremendous energy and provided an inspirational platform for educators and leaders who believe in the power of sharing, are passionate about transforming and advancing education, and are willing to work outside the box. #Ideasfest16