“Failing forward is a culture shift that we need in this world.” – Adam Bellow, USA
When Adam Bellow was growing up, he wanted to be Superman. When he grew older (and more realistic), he decided to find another way to change the world. So he became a teacher.
Bellow’s career in the classroom started as a high school English teacher. He has worked as a technology training specialist, Director of Educational Technology, and is now considered one of the education world’s leading speakers on educational technology.
His ultimate goal is helping teachers infuse their classroom lessons with technology that empowers students and enhances learning.
Bellow, who has been honored by ISTE as both an emerging leader and Outstanding Young Educator of the Year, founded the websites eduTecher, eduClipper, WeLearnedIt and eduGames. He also launched the popular “Change the World” student-focused charity campaigns, has given numerous speeches, including the closing keynote at ISTE in 2013.
Bellow and I sat down recently in Redmond during a Microsoft Underground Educational Tour, where we brought together education leaders and experts from all over the globe to give us feedback and insight into education trends.
What’s he most excited about?
“The number one most exciting thing is the fact that you can do really cool stuff, and more importantly than doing the cool stuff, you can share it out,” says Bellow. “We’ve been talking in education for a long time about an authentic audience and giving students the same platforms that professional users have. With my own kids, I want them to be doing work that is able to be shared and be able to contribute value to society at large. And then for people to give them feedback and allow them to get pushed further.”
Bellow adds, “Allowing kids to actually be entrepreneurs…there’s real value in not saying ‘oh it’s a class project’ but actually saying, ‘Look you have the tools, these are the same tools everyone else has, here’s the objective. What do you want to do?’ And actually make it possible.”
We also discussed the biggest issues Bellow sees holding both teachers and students back.
“Unfortunately, there is a great disparity in this country,” he says. “There are a lot of kids that need devices, they need access and they don’t have it…I know people are addressing that issue. I think that the other issue is the fact that we are stuck in a model of education, unfortunately, that is still promoting ‘teach to the test.’”
Bellow believes a real shift is needed, one that must come from the school leadership. He also sees a role for government. “[They need to say], ‘Don’t worry so much about getting number four [on the test] correct, worry about preparing these kids for a life of learning, creating and sharing.’”
Of course we also talked about innovative technologies in the classroom. But Bellow takes it a step further, discussing how he sees landing technologies effectively in classrooms – especially with teachers who may be resistant to learning and using technology.
“I think that sometimes [reluctant teachers] feel pressure to be really excellent the first time out,” he says. “Failing forward is a culture shift that we need in this world, really. Schools are certainly no exception to that. As teachers embrace that methodology of ‘look I’m just going to try this one thing’…and then expanding that one thing throughout their curriculum.”
“Doing what’s right for their kids – and that’s ultimately why they became a teacher – involves sometimes taking a little risk, doing a little learning, and also being supported by your wonderful teacher community…as well as your students,” he adds. “Minecraft’s a great example. I didn’t know Minecraft until my seven-year-old taught me how to do it. And when I needed help for him, my four-year-old helped us. The kids actually can guide teachers as well. [It’s important to know] that you’re partners in learning, as opposed to feeling that you have to be an expert.”
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Adam Bellow!
New York, New York, USA