As a long-time fan of TED, I was thrilled last week by the launch of TED Ed: dedicated to lessons worth sharing. Its mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world.
The ability to connect classrooms - students and teachers - to high quality lessons by other teachers is something I wish my high school history teacher, Mr. Bob Russell, was alive to see, just as I wish he were alive to witness our work in Fierce in the Schools.
Mr. Russell was one of my great mentors and resources, and TED Ed is exactly the kind of thing that would make him smile. He went out of his way to connect with us – his students - as human beings.
He linked us with amazing resources, and then engaged us in unforgettable conversations around the topic at hand. We were alive, present and engaged. Once you experience that kind of learning, it’s unimaginable to go back to the old lecture/rote mode.
Mr. Russell helped me and my classmates learn how to learn. In doing so, he opened the door for us, to our own futures, to our own capacity to learn and create. He taught me to engage my curiosity with the world in a deeper way.
Over 20 years after his passing, his students created a Facebook page called "Bob Russell Teacher Extraordinaire." The conversations he sparked decades ago, continue today.
Having worked in Fierce in the Schools for over 8 years, time and time again I have witnessed teachers experience a profound shift in their own mindset and teaching – a shift from a tendency to lecture and dispense information to their students, to truly facilitating their students' learning through productive conversation.
For teachers eager to facilitate their students’ learning, TED Ed is an amazing resource. In a blog I wrote last year, I quoted one of my all-time favorite authors, Joseph Campbell: "The job of an educator is to help students see the vitality in themselves."
That is what great teachers have done for me.