This past Friday and Saturday, EdSurge hosted a Tech for Schools Summit in Los Angeles. We've attended EdSurge Summits in the past, and came in with an idea of what to expect, but the combination of the energized attendees and the now-seasoned Summit organizers made this event their best one yet.
We spent Friday with a small group of L.A.-area administrators who had identified teacher observation, personalized PD, and human capital as areas of interest for their schools and districts. After two collaborative sessions with those folks, we came away with a better understanding of the pain points those educators had, and were able to speak candidly about ways we could help.
In some instances, it was the little things that put smiles on educators' faces: our automated time-stamping on observation forms, or the way our Library allows for PD resources to be promoted to a teacher. In other cases, we identified some real disconnects between teacher observations and professional development decisions. We spend our days thinking about how to streamline and unify all elements of teacher effectiveness, and now we have so much more feedback to incorporate into our future development.
Then came the main event. An estimated 700 educators attended the Summit, which took up most of a Saturday. We knew we had to make it worthwhile, and the EdSurge folks put together an agenda that was jam-packed with great sessions but still gave plenty of time for people to roam around, visit with edtech companies, have meaningful discussions, and begin to forge new relationships.
Edtech companies attend lots of events every year. They're a way to gain exposure and connect with the educators we hope to serve. At most conferences, companies sit in the long rows of a vendor hall, hoping to talk to an interested attendee. This traditional model doesn't offer the most reliable forum for a two-way dialog. The Summits promote a level of engagement that isn't often found on the exhibit-hall floor. TeachBoost goes to the Summits to have meaningful discussions with educators, and to form partnerships that are mutually beneficial for us and for the attendees. We'll take that over handing out fun-size candy any day. :)