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Dispatches From the Teaching & Learning 2014 Conference, Part I


This is the first part of a three-part exploration of the Teaching & Learning 2014 conference, hosted by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Updated: Here are Part II and Part III.

The Newseum may be journalism's Mecca, an homage to everything great and sobering and terrible about the news profession.

Thursday night, though, the museum was given over to the teaching profession, as host of one of many pre-conference sessions around Washington that herald the arrival of Teaching & Learning 2014, an event created by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (with some carry over from the WNET's now-discontinued Celebration of Teaching and Learning).

The night at the Newseum started off with a showing of the Davis Guggenheim documentary "TEACH," the follow-up to another education-related film that garnered much more publicity, "Waiting for 'Superman.'" The newer film follows four young high school teachers for a year as they experience the pressures and rewards of their chosen profession. "TEACH" premiered on TV in September, in the coveted Friday night primetime slot. (That's sarcasm, FYI.)

Well, OK, the event didn't start with the screening; it started with a wine-and-cheese reception, because if there's one thing Washington does particularly well, it's drinking. I'm a nervous wreck in group settings, but, again ... free wine.

An ensuing panel discussion featured Shelby Harris, a mathematics teacher at Kuna Middle School in Kuna, Idaho, and a subject of the film; Daniela Robles, a National Board Certified Teacher; David Pinder, DCPS Principal of the Year; Education Week's own Mark Walsh, our school law and media guru; and um, in the interest of full disclosure, me.

There were a lot of good questions, most especially for Shelby, to whom attendees flocked afterward. No one seems to be here just as a vacation to the nation's capital; there's a definite undercurrent of concern for the profession, especially in light of the implementation of completely new standards and re-learning instruction.

This should make for an interesting conference. The speaker line-up includes all the big names in education: Arne Duncan, Linda Darling-Hammond, Bill Gates, Dennis Van Roekel, Bobby McFerrin (?), etc. The NBPTS has invested a lot in this event. One reason for that may be that recent years have seen a decline in board certification numbers, and the group has been trying to reinvent its image and mission.  

Throughout today, I'll be livetweeting from my personal Twitter account, @itsapun, and occasionally @EdWeekTeacher. The conference's Twitter hashtag is #TLconf2014, if you want to dive right in.

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