Indiana's Future Conference Provides Valuable Information for New Tech Teachers
November 16–17, 2009, gave Indiana the opportunity to shine in the national spotlight as New Tech leaders and educators from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, South Dakota, Delaware, and New York joined more than 750 Hoosiers in Indianapolis to attend CELL’s annual education transformation conference, “Indiana’s Future: Bold Choices. Better Schools.” CELL’s largest conference to date featured cutting-edge information and innovative strategies from national experts and local leaders to improve educational opportunities. CELL spoke with Anne Lyng, a novice New Tech teacher, and Nancy Sutton, CELL school transformation liaison, to assess the event’s true impact on education.
“The conference enables us to get the big message out to a variety of people and engage them,” Sutton said. “I heard people saying, ‘this is how you bring in high-level partners and meaningful resources to support schools.’”
Lyng, an English teacher at Lakeland High School, mirrored Sutton’s thoughts while reflecting on the sessions she attended. Lyng found one session so engaging that she memorized something its presenter shared.
“It was great to hear directly from Dr. Bennett in the Indiana Department of Education’s Action Plan session, during which he shared key points the DOE is trying to accomplish. I just loved when he said ‘right now we’re trying to take a Flintstones model into a Jefferson society.’ That’s something I think of every day as I prepare to reform my classroom.”
The conference was so comprehensive that its sessions even fulfilled attendees’ specific needs. To Lyng, who will begin teaching in New Tech next year, this meant obtaining information about how to successfully make the transition into the New Tech classroom.
“The New Tech implementation models session was very good because a lot of it was focused on the challenges of starting New Tech, which I will do next year. I got a clearer vision of what to expect, especially in terms of the New Tech culture; how to engage the students with technology; and how to properly assess my progress.”
Lyng also discovered valuable information about best practices and resources for her students.
“During Ken Kay’s keynote presentation, I became really sold on the idea of 21st-century skills. He quoted a guy from Apple. ‘If someone needs to be managed, they’re unemployable.’ When I do activities with my students in the future, if I feel like I’m managing, I’m going to pass it over to them. I want to instill in them those ‘soft skills,’ like being a self starter, so they can be successful.”
In “What Does It Really Mean to be ‘College Ready’?,” Lyng gained access to a critical resource for student success—higher education leaders.
“It was so nice to get in the same room with college professors. They highlighted specific weaknesses in different subject areas that students typically have. They even offered tips on how to address those gaps in student achievement.”
Lyng’s experience reinforced what Sutton and others from CELL hoped attendees would gather from the conference.
“We wanted education leaders to have important conversations and connect with their work as a whole. That way they can become more connected to the innovative reforms going on throughout the state,” Sutton said.
Resources from the conference, including keynote videos, session handouts and slideshow presentations are posted online on the 2009 Indiana Education Transformation Conference page.
Published: December 2009