Blog Post

Imagining What School Could Be with Ted Dintersmith

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Education Innovators Series

Intro:

Get inspired with ideas to transform teaching and learning with Ted Dintersmith, founder and chairman of WhatSchoolCouldBe.org.

A former venture capitalist, Dintersmith is consumed with issues at the intersection of education, career and citizenship skills, and democracy. His films, books, keynotes, and philanthropy focus on the urgency of reimagining school to keep pace with the tsunami of innovation that is reshaping society. He was appointed by President Obama in 2012 to represent the United States at the United Nations General Assembly, and in 2018 he received the prestigious NEA Friend of Education Award.

Watch this recording of our March event with Dintersmith and start imagining what school could be in your own classroom or school.

Moderator:

Dr. Glenn Cummings
President of the University of Southern Maine

Panelists:

Pender Makin
Commissioner of Education

Jeremy Jones
Executive Director of the Maine Charter School Commission

Alana Margeson
2012 Maine Teacher of the Year and Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, UMaine Presque Isle

Boyd Marley
Principal of East End Community School

Key Takeaways:

Ted Dintersmith:

  • “I hung around for years with marathon runners. And so I liken today to being at mile 23 of a marathon no one signed up to run. And I think it’s very tempting, and marathon runners would say the same thing, at mile 23 to say ‘I’m just going to get done and I may never put running shoes on again.’ But when you go back to those marathon runners five years or ten years later, they look at that race and say ‘I am so proud of having run that race, it was a life highlight.’ I think every single person on this call will look back on this very challenging period and feel immensely proud of staying with it and supporting their kids.”

Pender Makin:

  • “There’s plenty of brain research to show that when you try to hold somebody artificially externally accountable for something that they showed up already pre-accountable for, you have just completely disenfranchised them. So we have pushed the professionalism away from our educators. We have reduced school leaders to middle management at best. We’ve handed them stuff to hand down to hand down to be implemented. And I am very eager in our state to remind people that learning doesn’t happen in content siloes.”

Alana Margeson and Boyd Marley highlighted the importance of higher education institutions preparing students to be the teachers of the future.

Jeremy Jones shared examples of innovative practices being used in and around Maine right now, including one example from Baxter Academy in Portland.

Audience Comments:

  • “Everything Ted is speaking to is right there in my edu-soul. My question is why are the gatekeepers in our school districts and government systems so reluctant to embrace these ideas? What will it take for those parties to trust classroom and school-level educator to do the work that meets the standards, that addresses the targets, yet doesn’t measure it through traditional means?”
  • “There are many of us IN THE FIELD who are ready for this, but it is really challenging to change ANYTHING in our entrenched systems.”
  • “Two broad questions: 1. How do we address the need to nurture a “professionalized” teaching force but who sometimes feel like they treated as compliance managers. 2. How are collective bargaining units being engaged in the need to reimagine what schools could be? Too often that is the elephant in the room that few really want to take on.”
  • “How do we get our communities to support an approach of education that is radically different from what they experienced when they were students?”
  • “Partnering with students to bring meaning and value to their learning through authentic and relevant projects is so rewarding as the educator because you become more the facilitator, not the expert, and the kids rise to the challenge and lead the way every time!”
Video: