Every student is a dynamic character with a potential for greatness, Martinsville City Public Schools’ educators were advised at their convocation to open the academic year.
Trevor Muir, a teacher, author, international speaker, and project-based learning expert, addressed teachers at the convocation, held Aug. 6 via a virtual meeting.
The convocation included a welcome by Martinsville City Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Zeb Talley and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Angilee Downing. Muir’s address, titled “The epic classroom: how to boost engagement, make learning memorable, and transform lives,” focused on how to unlock the potential of school through creativity.
Muir delivered the keynote address followed by breakout sessions with each school, tweaking the overall message to meet the needs of each grade level.
Muir said that educators possess the key to unlocking students’ potential by building relationships and crafting learning experiences that are engaging and transformative. He presented information on project-based learning and the effectiveness that authentic education can have on students.
“My message was primarily about three things: how do we recognize the stories our students are living, how do we utilize the skills and knowledge that our students bring to school with them from their own lives and stories, and how do we create learning experiences that students will remember as stories,” said Muir. “When teachers connect with students and build relationships, as well as give them work that is meaningful, school becomes authentic. Authenticity breeds engagement, and engagement leads to deeper learning. The keynote was about the power of this authenticity, and the breakout sessions went into detail on how to plan and utilize this authenticity in the classroom. I particularly loved working with Martinsville teachers because they are already deeply invested in their students and designing authentic, epic learning, and so a lot of our time together was about deepening connections and making learning even more transformational for students.”
Muir’s “presentation was insightful and motivational for all staff,” said Talley. “Teachers can use his creative methodologies to enhance student learning. He has presented this pandemic as an opportunity for ‘new learning’.”
“Trevor Muir’s work with us was inspirational and helped us to understand how we can use the power of story, our students’ stories and our stories, to help build relationships no matter the environment,” said Downing.
“Our convocation presenter, Trevor Muir shared the importance of student engagement as it pertains to distance learning and the importance of social emotional learning,” said Martinsville High School Principal Aji Dixon. “The information provided was insightful and extremely relevant.”
“Trevor Muir is one of the best conversationalists that I had the opportunity to experience,” said Albert Harris Elementary School Principal Renee Brown. “In his breakout sessions, he spoke to the hearts and souls of all of us about what it truly means to transform our students’ lives. During this time of crisis, we, as educators, will forge relationships with our students, provide social and emotional support, and educate our children. Mr. Muir has inspired us not to let COVID define us; we are committed to becoming better than ever before.”
“Trevor Muir offered words of inspiration and epic ideas to engage student in learning,” said Martinsville Middle School Principal Cynthia Tarpley. “He encouraged teachers to teach from the heart using authenticity and problem-solving with teaching methods such as project-based learning. Teachers were inspired by his use of storytelling to inspire, to build relationships, and to make the learning memorable for students. He reminded them to take the time to speak to and connect with students they know are having difficult times. Many teachers have ordered his book, The Epic Classroom, and will be using it as a resource to make learning rich and engaging.”
Following Muir’s address, MCPS received another keynote address from Gerry Brooks, a principal at an elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky, and public speaker as part of a statewide convocation presented by the Virginia Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (VASCD) on August 7 via a virtual meeting. Brooks’ address titled “Personal Climate and Culture,” provided several reminders, in a lighthearted style, for educators regarding the importance of inclusive and positive interactions with others. Brooks’ explained that knowing our colleagues, seeing situations through the lenses of others, and focusing on the things we can control are all examples of ways we can create positive personal climate and culture.
Muir is a teacher, author, and international speaker. He is the author of the books The Epic Classroom and The Collaborative Classroom. Muir is a professor at Grand Valley State University, a former faculty member for the Buck Institute for Education, and an Andrew Gomez Dream Foundation speaker. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Education Week, and We Are Teachers. He gave a TEDx talk titled “School Should Take Place in the Real World.” His Facebook page, The Epic Classroom, has inspiring videos that have been viewed over 25 million times.
Brooks’ educational experience includes six years in the classroom, two years as an intervention specialist, and 12 years as an administrator. He is a passionate public speaker whose focus is on encouraging and helping teachers improve their instructional abilities. He also has a desire to help administrators successfully lead their staff. An encouraging speaker, he has spoken to educational groups all around the nation. His focus is on encouraging teachers to improve their instruction through personal climate and culture strategies. He desires to help administrators focus on how to lead all staff in a positive and constructive manner. His following on social media has developed through humorous videos that focus on real-world educational experiences. He is currently followed on these social media sites by more than 500,000 people.