TED Talks Tuesdays

As a Curriculum Director, part of my job description requires me to organize and plan the professional development for the educators in my school corporation. One of the things I have tried to do this year is differentiate the type of optional opportunities I am offering the staff. We know our students do not like for all their classes to be the same. We all know we have different preferences when it comes to learning. I am trying to make a conscious effort to mix it up for my teachers. This blog is about one of the new things I am trying: TED Talk Tuesdays.

TED Talks have always been something I ​​personally enjoy. Within the past year, I found myself having reflective discussions with other educators based on recent TED Talks I had viewed or listened to via podcast. This is what sparked the idea to include this in an optional professional development for my school corporation. As someone who is charged with leading, organizing, and facilitating all professional development within my district, I wanted to find a new or different style or opportunity for my teachers to grow. We at NK pride ourselves in the family-like feel within our corporation. I wanted to bring teachers from all levels and contents together to sit, talk, discuss, collaborate, debate, and reflect. I felt like TED Talks gave me a great platform to do this. I mean, who doesn’t love TED Talks?

At these sessions, we view some motivating TED Talks, then reflect and discuss. This has been a great way to rejuvenate teachers throughout the school year. Teachers are challenged with some outside perspectives. My teachers have enjoyed the opportunity to stop, think, and collaborate with peers. These optional professional development sessions are fairly relaxed with open dialogue between colleagues.

I asked my teachers for some feedback on how the TED Talk Tuesdays were going. Below are some comments from some of my teachers:

"Ted Talks clarify much of what we already know. A teacher isn’t only an educator but also a mentor to our students. The time we have spent in listening to other professionals allows us to evaluate ourselves. As an individual, “What am I doing right?” and “What can I do to improve?” I believe we all need a refresher course on the role we play in our community. The Ted Talks are insightful about the influence we have on our students. I enjoy the open forum to discuss issues. We have a really good group of teachers that want to share their experience in the classroom so we have a relaxed atmosphere."

"I really enjoy them because they are relaxing morale boosters. They get the faculty together, and you get to know one another from many different angles. We talk education, but it is with a unique perspective each time. The TED talks are funny and so far from what I have seen, are true to the profession. We are hearing speakers (better than myself) say the things a lot of time I am going through or wondering about. I hope we keep doing them. I am very thankful to be a part of a group with such a “family” feel. The camaraderie of this place is exactly what I was looking for and didn’t even realize it."

"We are constantly on the go, not only preparing lessons or grading papers but also constantly interacting individually with students and going the extra mile in ways that most people are not aware of. Stopping that one-hour to reflect personally and to bounce off our thoughts among colleagues . . . is refreshing (can hopefully re-energize a bit)."

"The TED Talk Tuesdays are a very uplifting type of professional development for me. As a special educator, I tend to get caught up in the latest issue or problem and stray from the reason I am in this profession. The TED Talks help me gain perspective and allow a chance to connect with my fellow teachers, most of whom I pass in the hallway and speak to, but am too busy to actually have a conversation with. The TED Talks are positive, energizing, and thought provoking. I appreciate the opportunity to participate."

"I feel like the TED Talks have gone well. They seem to have sparked quite a bit of interest and have led to thought-provoking ideas and conversation. I know in terms of both the math and science departments that there have been some positive follow-up discussions involving topics from our meetings. It never hurts to be reminded about why we are in this profession and consider some ways of how we might be able to handle certain situations a little bit better."

"During these TED Talk Tuesdays, I do enjoy hearing other people's perspectives and contemplating them. It helps to gather many ideas in collaboration so that we can all grow as educators in our constantly evolving environment. I think these TED Talks are a little different compared to other PD opportunities in that we have more of an opportunity to share our feelings and experiences instead of mostly just having one lecturer."

"I think the TED talks are great. Mostly I like the time to confer with my colleagues in a structured way. It's easy for things to devolve into gossip and griping when there isn't a coherent positive topic to focus on. Ted Talk Tuesday gives us that."

If you haven’t watched a TED Talk before, I encourage you to check them out. Here are some of my top picks:

Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success

Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve

Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley

John Wooden: The difference between winning and succeeding

If you are already a fan, I encourage you to share TED Talks with your colleagues. The last suggestion I have for you is this: if you do gather a group together to watch and discuss, snacks are always a plus. Who doesn’t like to watch a video with popcorn and candy?


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