Bill Gate’s Keynote at the 2012 NAISAC Annual Conference

Below is that video of Bill Gates’ Keynote Address at the NAIS Annual Conference on Thursday, March 1, 2012. You can read the transcript here.

Bill Gates talks about four main trends in his speech:

1) Creating engaging and interactive ways of learning rather than using the traditional text book.

2) Using the internet to find, use, and share resources among teachers. A new way to collaborate between and among teachers.

3) Using social networks in positive ways both to enhance the learning of teachers and students.

4) Using technology, game play, etc. to provide immediate feedback for teachers and students.

Bill Gates mentions that these are the things he hopes he’ll be seeing in 10 years across the country.However, according to Mr. Gates, it is already happening at leading schools. How much of a leader in these areas are your teachers and your schools?

Having a network and being connected can be a great thing. I was teaching on the day Bill Gates gave his keynote, but  was able to follow some of the conversation via twitter and recently alerted that the video and transcript of his speech were now available, something Mr. Gates had promised to share.

Advertisements

What I Heard About Day 1 at the NAISAC conference

It’s amazing how much information flows in the back channels (if you know how to find them) at conferences. I wasn’t able to attend today’s portion of the NAISAC12 conference but was able to glean a lot of information through dedicated bloggers and tweeters. I was also able to speak to a few people tonight about their thoughts on the speakers.

There was a lot of chatter in anticipation of the keynote Bill Gates. There were also some comments about NAIS being behind the times by not publishing their official twitter hashtag in their program. By the way, it’s #NAISAC12. Even our regional PNAIS fall conference embraced the hashtag. Anway, on to Bill.

The crowd was big and expectations were high. The session kicked off with Northwest School’s choir which sang a moving a cappella song. (Note: A good friend at the Northwest School mentioned that NAIS did not permit those students to stay to listen to Mr. Gates’ address.)

After a flash of innovators across the screen, King County exec Dow Constantine took the stage followed by NAIS president Pat Bassett. He thanked bloggers and tweeters (I guess that’s me) and announced that there were 4100+ registrants. He said of the 30,000 schools, one of our local competitor schools was noted for its river that runs through its campus. Then Bill Gates was introduced by the head of Lakeside School, Bernie Noe.

Bill Gates talked about the flipped classroom – a disruption model, but the twitter feed mentioned that no sessions on flipped classrooms at the conference were being offered at the conference. He never really addresses how to fuel the teachers that are out there innovating, and in the end, it seemed the general consensus was, it’s nice to have Bill Gates as a keynote, it was well-organized, but there wasn’t as much new information as some hoped. I will have to read a little more to try and find some nuggets to take away.

The afternoon closing session was conducted as three separate 20 minute keynotes. And every tweet and blog I read tonight only had this to say about Sarah Kay: WOW!  Brilliant!  Heart wrenching, powerful. superb! I’m fairly jealous of those who got to see her, I’ve posted her TED talk before, but it’s definitely worth a listen again.

What I’d Like to Ask Bill Gates Next Week

Next week, people from many places associated with independent schools will be in town for the National Independent Schools Annual Conference here in Seattle. I’m excited about this week for many reasons and hope to write about them in the coming days.

One of the things I’m interested in is what the featured keynote speaker, Bill Gates, has to say. I won’t be able to hear him speak directly on Thursday as I’ll be teaching. I will, however, be able to follow his address through many various channels.

I read his opinion piece in the NYTimes on Friday about his thoughts on New York making teacher performance assessments public. I agree with him on many points. One of these is that making teacher evaluation assessments publicly available isn’t going to do anything to help improve teaching. I also agree with Gates’ statement that “Teaching is multifaceted, complex work.” I also think that his push for robust teacher evaluations that help give direct feedback to teachers so they can improve their practice is a good thing. Mr. Gates calls for trained peers and supervisors to provide this feedback. I would love to invite a team from his foundation come visit me teach, so I can get that direct feedback on how to improve. In return, I’d love to be trained so I can pass it on and give this feedback to others. If there’s a way to sign up, let me know.

Effective teaching requires complicated measures, and I don’t believe that we’ve reliably figured out what combination of those metrics are. Unfortunately, the term ‘teacher accountability’ tends to scare people away from “creating a personnel system that truly helps teachers improve.” As reported in an article titled “Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, Ratings Indicate,” the actual publication of New York’s assessments show that high and low performing teachers exist in every school regardless of wealth, neighborhood, or population.

The theme of the NAISAC12 conference is Innovation. I am a big fan of the work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation do and think its research into improving schools will benefit us all.

The Gates foundation recognizes the need to implement new ideas, and even if those attempts at education reform don’t work, analyzing and learning from the data is important. Microsoft, the company Gates founded some time ago took many risks and has been very successful, but along the way, it has also produced some things that didn’t work as well as they’d hope (remember the Kin anyone?). That didn’t stop them. In fact, I’m quite excited to see Microsoft trying to be a player in the mobile world. It promotes innovation from all its competitors.

In today’s op ed section of the NYTimes there’s an article titled “True Innovation” about Bell Labs. Last year I read two great books about innovation and risks: Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation and Tim Harford’s Why Success Always Starts with Failure: Adapt. Like so many things that end up being polarized, I think many things do not have to be either/or. The article and the books mention the need for both autonomy and collaboration. They are not exclusive of each other. The challenge is finding the balance, so that the continued cycle of improvement promotes both teacher accountability and innovative teaching.

If I had the chance, I’d like to ask Bill Gates this…

To fuel innovation, we often need to take risks. Risks come with many rewards, but they also come with failure. How do you balance teacher accountability while supporting and promoting innovative teaching?

If anyone gets a chance on Thursday to get behind a mic and ask this question, I’d love to hear his response.