Sharing What Works

Not the snow or even the biting winds could keep hundreds of educators from coming together on a Saturday to share what’s working in New York City public education.

In January over 450 educators — primarily teachers — from district, charter schools and independent schools across New York City packed the NYU Kimmel Center to spend the day sharing strategies and best practices for improving the city’s schools. The first ever What Works in Urban Schools conference included more than 30 workshops, on topics ranging from setting and tracking character goals, rethinking minority participation in STEM to strategies for increasing instructional rigor, presented by educational experts from KIPP NYC, The New Teacher Project, Teaching Matters, Google, and Scholastic, among others.

“We thought it was about time to connect educators across NYC to learn from and with each other,” said David Levin, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter network. “When teachers from different schools share ideas on great teaching, students are the ones who benefit.”

Event organizers say that the conference’s real impact came from the avid enthusiasm among educators to drill down into what’s working and how it could be applied in other schools across the city. The workshops included practical strategies for improving instruction and thought-provoking conversations, while the day also provided opportunities for educators to talk shop on their own.

“We put together a conference and space where teachers could share ideas - not just sit around at a lecture for an hour,” said Kerry Mullins, Managing Director of the ‘Our People’ Team at KIPP.

By all accounts, What Works in Urban Education was a success. The day’s turnout, the feedback, and the impact since — from relationships forged at the conference to teachers changing their approach in the classroom — affirm that there is a desire to work together to improve student learning.

One participant who filled out the post-event survey said: “This event was one of the best professional development events I have ever attended. It was very well planned and almost every speaker was a leader in their respective field. I learned a lot of useful information and walked away with many ideas that I can certainly implement in my classroom! I look forward to attending this event again next year.” Another participant agreed: “One of the best professional development experiences in my decade of teaching.”

Planning for the second annual conference is already underway. Save the Date for Saturday, January 5, 2013 and click here to join the conference mailing list.