Tomorrow’s Classroom Starts TODAY


There are many problems, but I think there is a solution to all these problems; it’s just one, and it’s education. Malala Yousafzai

I never imagined a one day conference would leave me with so much.  I don’t want to just say I attended TCT17, I want to commit to it.  I want to commit to giving teachers and students tomorrow’s classrooms today.  I believe it matters now more than ever.

How do I bring back all of the wonderful take aways to my district and hopefully beyond?  I could share a Google Doc capturing the engaging tools I learned about (and I eventually will), but I believe the use of digital tools is an avenue to empowerment.  The approaches to teaching and learning, the fresh ideas that rock your world, and the lessons learned from a collaborative experience with professionals who are fueled by passion:  These ignite our missions in the classroom, in our schools, in our communities.

In this post, I would like to focus on three important lessons based on my experience with the educators I was surrounded by.  It’s adrenaline rushing to attend a conference like TCT. The people, the energy, the air in the room.  It’s almost addictive.  Yet as hard as it is to leave, this is when we have to remember the responsibility that accompanies aching for the best, the latest, and the most life changing.  We are the ones who must ignite the change.   If we don’t, we risk staying in today instead of tomorrow, and even worse, allowing for comfort in yesterday.

Although cool and cloudy,  Jersey was blazing just one week ago.  A hot spot for revolutionary education, everyone attending TCT17 was on fire with teaching, learning, and sharing. Striking the match was Angela Watson.  Not only is she a cool person to speak with, but speaks to a crowd with nothing but honesty and experience. Angela is clearly a student of education and her outside the box thinking is an immediate attention grabber.  She brilliantly brought her expert advice through a series of questions and ideas leaving all of us charged to make a bigger impact.

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*Give yourself permission to “eliminate the good and make time for the best.”

*Before you bring even the most innovative idea to your classroom or school, ask yourself the following:  Will this experience be meaningful and authentic for my students right now?  Ask students to be a part of the process when making decisions.  Innovation should be something we do with our kids not something we plan for our kids.

It’s one thing for us to reflect on the advice above, but we also need to spread it like crazy and share the results.  This is the greater task.

Here is Angela’s Do Fewer Things Better Notetaking Guidehighlighting the five questions she shared during her keynote at TCT17.  This is a gem for every educator on the planet.

In 9 Ways to Create Tomorrow’s Classrooms Today, Angela embraces the characteristics of TCT, sharing practical ways to foster each.  I highly recommend sharing her post with everyone in your building and beyond!

If nothing else, get these characteristics out there for everyone in your school to see!

  • Autonomy
  • Risk-taking
  • Embracing failure
  • Tinkering
  • Collaboration
  • Real world application
  • Patience
  • Caring attitude
  • Technology integration


Lesson 2

I always hear from teachers and administrators on Twitter, “Surround yourself with other passionate educators.”  I’d like to go one step further and reflect on the importance of immersing ourselves in courage.  In order to make Lessons 1 and 2 come to life, we need to be brave.

Jay Billy (PIRATE principal), Beth Houf (co-author of Lead Like a PIRATE) , and Lourds Lane (writer/musician, creator of SuperYou) are experts in their field.  They each bring immense passion to their work and I connect with them every week if not more.  Beyond anything else, however, they have taught me to be courageous in my own work just by being who they are.  I still have to work hard at this, but I am not afraid to be who I am. In fact I have learned to even wear who I am and those days are the most fun.

I was immersed in courage at TCT17.  My friend, Jay Billy, led the way.  To me, his superpower is genuineness.  What you see is what you get and it’s all heart.  Jay is not afraid to be himself, to stand up for what he believes in, and to spread his love for education to others.  I also had the honor of meeting rockstar teachers and administrators who I hope to stay connected with forever.  Young trailblazers leaving their marks early along with veterans who are leaving new marks unafraid to shake things up.


2 thoughts on “Tomorrow’s Classroom Starts TODAY

  1. blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Nice, Nealz! You’re incredibly passionate about teaching, and the world is lucky to have you 🙂 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone


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