In 2013, I participated in the MERIT program at the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College. It's a two-week (paid) summer institute that helps teachers dream big and implement technology and innovative ideas into the classroom. This year I'm joining them as an instructor, and it's already (after day one) been a great experience.

I wrote at the end of the school year about my fear that all of the good teachers are leaving the classroom. Too many of my PD sessions have been focused on leading PD sessions and not on kids. That scares me. Even Google has moved from the Google Certified Teacher program to Google Certified Innovators. And I know that's mostly semantics, but it hurts my heart a little. I worry we're losing focus of our true audience: students. 

And that's why the first day at MERIT yesterday was so amazing. This instructional team is so focused on students, even if they aren't working in a classroom. 

We had Roni Habib lead us through a series of mini-games that help build classroom community, celebrate small-stakes failure, and are just a lot of fun. He's a fantastic example of what it means to love the whole-child well and to encourage him or her to be the best that he or she can be. 

Then Rushton Hurley shared what Rushton shares: Students are awesome, and we just need to empower them. He shared about nextvista.org, his non-profit that creates student and teacher video contests. One of these contests was creating awareness for local non-profits & encouraging students to give these organizations a louder voice. I'm all about that. 

Corrine Takara led us through an exercise thinking through our superpowers and kryptonites. She shared her lesson plan for doing this with students. I'm definitely stealing this for my first week activities in the fall. We're going to brainstorm our superpowers, identify what we think is our strongest one, and then create an emblem. Afterwards, I'm going to encourage them to find someone who's superpower is their kryptonite, and we're going to discuss how this makes our class an awesome team. 

Meg Omainsky encouraged us to think about how we could hack our classroom furniture (or the furniture we find in the school junk pile) to create more collaborative learning spaces. Things like teacher and student desks, filing cabinets, projector carts. I hadn't ever thought of that. We did some ideating and prototyping with it. I'd never thought about hacking that stuff. I'd love to do that exercise with students. 

I'm really excited for two weeks of working with these awesome people (and the awesome teacher participants). There's a ton of positive energy in the room and a fantastic collaborative spirit. I can't wait to see what we all learn together!