Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Creativity and Possibilities at the 2010 NJEA Convention

Last week I found myself in Atlantic City surrounded by tens of thousands of teachers at the 2010 New Jersey Education Association Convention. Considered the largest educational gathering of its kind anywhere in the world, the convention provides teachers and educational support professionals the chance to participate in two days of professional development workshops, seminars, and programs. I was there to tape interviews for Classroom Close-up, NJ with the event’s keynote speakers, Sir Ken Robinson and Soledad O’Brien.

One of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and innovation, Robinson spoke about “transforming” education (vs “reforming”) while covering many of the themes from his New York Times best-seller, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I found his ideas on creativity, defining intelligence, and finding the point where natural talent meets personal passion so thought-provoking, I’ve told everyone I’ve spoken with in the last week to go out and read this book.

CNN Anchor and Special Correspondent O'Brien focused on the importance of mentors and the opportunities that teachers have to play this role with students. Drawing on examples from her new book, The Next Big Story: My Journey Through the Land of Possibilities, as well her CNN documentaries, she offered encouragement to teachers who feel under attack in today’s political climate. Soledad also squeezed in a little mentoring herself by taking the time to sit down for an interview with a group of student reporters from Absegami High School.

Getting to watch the students from Gammi TV at work turned out to be the surprise highlight of the two days in AC. After they did a killer interview, the crew ventured out on the floor to get the scoop on the convention. A really sharp bunch of students who made full use of a great opportunity arranged by a passionate teacher.

The Classroom Close-up, NJ episode about the 2010 NJEA Convention is scheduled to air for the first time on February 7. And you're looking for some inspiration, I highly recommend The Element and The Next Big Story, both were amazing reads.