April 30 FG2T: Keynote by Emily Liebtag

A Virtual Symposium in Response to the Pandemic

“From Gathering to Transformation” is a weekly virtual collaboration with global partners in education to move towards learner centered transformation. Each week, our summit is introduced with a mini keynote by a leader in education, followed by the exploration of two guiding questions in small breakout groups. On April 30, Emily Liebtag of Boundless, shared her vision of making education transformation THE movement of our time.

Emily Liebtag is the founding CEO of Boundless, a new organization founded in partnership with Sir Ken Robinson and Ted Dintersmith. Boundless is a global nonprofit to inspire, empower, and connect educators, students, and families – helping them lead school transformation from the ground up. Emily spent the past 4 years as the Director of Advocacy with Getting Smart, working with educators to leverage their ideas, share their voices, and promote their work around meaningful and innovative teaching and learning. Emily, along with co-authors Tom Vander Ark and Nate McClennen, recently published The Power of Place: Authentic Learning Through Place-Based Education.

There has been a long-standing recognition that schools need to change. Most schools as designed no longer meet the intellectual, social, emotional and wellness needs of the learners that the school spaces. Feedback driving the desire to change is now coming from students, parents, educators and system leaders. In this conversation, a burning question persists: would this change look like, and how would we describe this?

Emily and participants offered that at its core, the fundamental changes should include learning that is owned by students, includes real world relevance, is co-designed with students, and is connected to relationships to people in the classroom and far beyond. Emily challenged participants to reimagine the places of learning. Child and adult learners both desire powerful learning experiences that give agency, provide community and the spaces that afford them. The spaces for learning are not limited to the boundaries of the school building. Learning can happen outside, in the community, with mom or dad at home, or with an expert in the field.

Given the number of participants in the Gathering events and the wide-spread presence of conversations about change spurred by education’s COVID response, the challenge posed to the attendees is: What are the small steps we can take to push the boundaries of what education can be?

Change isn’t coming from thought leaders or individual leadership in a system – the theory of change includes networks of community members taking small steps toward a goal and pushing through the barriers. Change will come through bringing people together with similar affinity for this work to construct the parts of the new learning whole. People in our communities are the change makers. Emily challenged us to consider the possibility of even 25% of educators developing innovative ideas, taking action, and connecting with other change-makers. One person making a small step towards change, in the US alone is 800,000 steps taken to reimagine what could possibly be for our learners. If each of these educators committed to taking a single small step, to rethink learning, reimagine what’s possible, and rethink where learning happens and the power of place – the accumulation of these small steps would lead to big change.

Collaborate with World Educators to Explore the Potential for Change in the New Normal

The findings from each event will be summarized in our Insight section on this website and will be shared on social. This work is meant to be shared freely, and expanded by your own community.

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