Friday, January 10, 2014

TEDxThursdays - A New & Different PD Idea

This past November, I was fortunate to attend a TEDx Salon event. I saw the event it in my Eventbrite app, and it looked interesting so I signed up for the waiting list. Once I found TEDxBirmingham on Twitter and followed them, I got a nice email telling me that they set aside some tickets for each event, and they would reserve one for me if I wanted to attend. (Another reason why I love making connections on Twitter!) Of course, I responded that I would love to attend. Since the theme was "Education," I was very interested in being a part of it.

I didn't know what to expect at the TEDxBirminghamSalon, but I knew I wanted to find out what it was all about. The description on the website read, 
"It is a series of free recurring events leading up to TEDxBirmingham. The format for Salon events is two 40 minute sessions of TED Talks videos, with time before, in between, and after to connect and converse. There are no live speakers at Salon events. The format for Salon events is two 40 minute sessions of TED Talks videos, with time before, in between, and after to connect and converse. There are no live speakers at Salon events."

The event was held at the McWane Science Center where we, the attendees, watched five TED talk videos. One video I had already seen, one I had heard about, and three were new to me. Even though I had seen one already, it was a completely different experience to sit with a group of people and watch it together on a big screen instead of alone in front of my computer. 

Clapping together... laughing together... meeting others who were interested in the theme of Education... it was a great experience! After attending, I knew that I wanted to do something similar at my school. 

TEDxThursdays were born! 

What are TEDxThursdays? Each Thursday during the month of January, teachers can come to the conference room, sit in comfortable chairs, and watch TED talk videos with other teachers. Afterwards, they will get to discuss the videos and share any ideas or "take-aways" from the videos. 

Yesterday was the first of the series. I chose to show two videos that were shown at the TEDxBirminghamSalon event. The first is the talk given by Rita Pierson, "Every Kid Needs a Champion." Although it is a popular TED talk and some of our teachers have already seen it, it was the perfect video to kick off the series and the start of a new semester. 


Here's one of the follow-up questions we discussed:

In the video, she talks about the ways her mom built good relationships with students, and she says that her mom left a legacy of relationships.  What will be your legacy that you will leave behind?


The second video is the TED talk by Sugata Mitra, "Build a School in the Cloud."

Here are some discussion questions:
In the video, he says that schools are not broken but are obsolete. What do you think about this statement?
The students who find the computer in the middle of a remote village in India are curious and learn on their own. Do we stifle creativity and curiosity in schools, and if we do, how can change that?

The conversations were terrific. Teachers shared from the heart and all teachers contributed their own perspectives to the discussions. I'm looking forward to the next three Thursdays!


  1. Jennifer,
    What an AWESOME idea! I absolutely love this idea because it allows for open discussion between teachers. It is somewhat structured, but the teachers could take the conversations anywhere without feeling like they have to stick to a specific framework. Teachers always say they get some of their best ideas from those hallway, informal conversations and wish they had more time for those. You are giving them the time, motivation and inspiration for these conversations! I'm definitely going to see how I could fit these into our PD program- thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi, Katie. We hear the same thing - that teachers get a lot from informal conversations between classes and in the workrooms. I'm trying to give them a starting question then let the conversation follow their leads. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you'll share if you incorporate TED talks into your PD.