It is the largest teacher-training event of all time, the ripples of which are still being felt in classrooms around the world. Now that we can re-watch over 400+ sessions on Summit Central, it is important that we pay attention to the motifs and patterns that begin to stand out. There is one in particular that permeates every session regardless of topic. Reflection. A mighty challenge during these turbulent times, but this makes it all the more crucial in our personal lives and in our practice.
Thus, it is vital that we at Osiris Educational and the World Ed Summit Team contemplate on the history made that we were all witness to during WES 2021, and on the unseen months of work that preceded and resulted in it. What follows are my thoughts from the inception of the idea in the Autumn of 2020 through to now as we prepare to launch the World Education Summit 2022.
Reflection 1: The Power of Collective Efficacy is most evident in crisis
It started out as a far more modest enterprise than what it would become. Our free online webinars were proving to be a useful tonic for many in the industry that had lost out on valuable professional development during the pandemic (they still are!), but the impact was local for a problem that was (and still is) global. The Osiris team alongside Professor John Hattie were quick to recognise that more needed to be done, and thus the Summit was born.
I was drafted into the team to liaise with school leaders around the world for their ideas and to create online profiles for a few world-class presenters, as normal for a conference. This ‘few’ quickly became 20, then 50 then 100, exponentially creating an unparalleled web of expertise that stretched from corner to corner of the education world.
In the space of the month of November, WES 2021 had become a unique phenomenon, an almost complete collection of education’s finest minds. This was solely as a result of a completely unified collective efficacy and effort from a team of like-minded individuals who fully believed in the end goal.
This same collective belief of purpose was evident in every school leader I conversed with from the cold hills of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the sunny, palm tree skies of San Salvador, to the suddenly deadly streets of Rangoon, Myanmar. The education world has responded to the trials of the last year and a half by becoming more united, goal-focused and wellbeing centred.
Time and time again I was inspired by stories of entire teams of educators of one mind, going beyond the call of duty in the midst of crisis to ensure that their students and schools thrived despite it all. Many other parts of our world would do well to follow the example that global education continues to set.
Reflection 2: The Live-Event
‘You cannot replace the thrill of an in-person conference with a virtual summit’ was a doubt in my mind that the live event quickly dispelled. Yes, you miss out on the travel and the buzz of an inspired room, but this was all paltry in comparison to the seemingly endless variety of choices, truly an all-you-can-eat buffet of pedagogical brilliance.
This was made even more significant by the level of interaction that any attendee could have with the presenter they were watching, or indeed with other viewers. I saw many debates amongst teachers and leaders in chat boxes, as well as personal disagreements and questions noted and answered by presenters during their sessions. I doubt a live event would give such opportunities for organic conversation to absolutely everyone in attendance.
As a host of the Inspirational Teaching and High Impact Learning Stages, I was very privileged to have discussions with educationalists at the very cutting edge of theory and practice. From novel ways to empathise with and study historical figures whilst empowering young girls, to innovative escapism from the four walls of online learning, to spontaneous in-depth discussions about cricket with John Hattie when he unexpectedly dropped into one of our many networking break-out rooms. Each presenter I interviewed had the same passion for learning outcomes and wellbeing as the teachers and leaders from my work before the summit. We are truly an industry defined by vocation, and I guarantee that in every session you see on Summit Central, that vocation shines through.
Reflection 3: Looking Toward WES 2022
Now that schools are back, I’ll be joining the vast majority of other summit attendees in the perusal of the countless hours of educational content until WES 2022, which we begin the launch of on the 6th of September.
What challenges will the re-opening of our societies bring up in our classrooms and schools? How can we better prepare teachers and leaders for a future of education that looks more and more digital? Will next year’s summit take on a hybrid style of online and in-person presentation, akin to school practice around the world?
There is only one certainty, WES 2021 was only the beginning. We are a global community of teachers and learners united by a common cause, and this year and this summit have brought timely reminders of this. The World Education Summit 2022 will be bigger, more innovative and push further still forward the frontiers of learning. I hope to see you there next March 21st-24th.