Microsoft's worldwide Innovative Teachers Forums are about teachers from all over the world forming a community and working together. More than that, however, they are about celebration. Every teacher that attends these Forums has already won an award in their country or their region, so we're celebrating the best of the best in these worldwide events.
These teachers have been working hard all week, and are generally exhausted (as we all are) by the time of the big gala dinner. We try to provide them with a real reward for all of their hard work during the Forum week, but we also acknowledge the amazing work they do every day in their classrooms.
This year's gala dinner was at the floating Jumbo restaurant. Teachers are always dressed in their finest, and this year they were greeted by traditional Hong Kong drummers and costumed dancers before boarding the boat to the restaurant. Teachers were then able to visit a fortune teller, have their name written on a fan in Chinese characters, or get a drawing of themselves by a caricaturist.
Then dinner began. It was a multi-course Chinese feast full of exotic dishes. Our Vice President Ralph Young gave a short welcome, and soon it was the moment we've all been waiting for - the awards.
We award teachers in 4 categories: Collaboration, Community, Content and Educator's Choice. For the first three categories, judges score the VCTs and rank them as the best representation of work in each of those areas. The last category is up to the teachers. Each country gets one vote (much like the Eurovision contest...) for one teacher's VCT. There are first, second and third places in each category.
Stuart and I were extremely proud of both of our UK teachers, Dan and Peter. The work they're doing is truly amazing, as you've seen in previous posts. We were even more thrilled when the judges agreed with us about Dan's work at his school in Cornwall and awarded him third place in the Content category. All winners received prizes, but as always happens at these events, none of them seemed to care about what they received. They were honoured just to be recognised and amongst such a distinguished group of educators, and they were just as excited for the other winners as they were for themselves.
L to R in the photo at right: Me, Peter, Dan and Stuart
It was a great week, and Stuart and I are just about to head home to the UK. We'll have a lot more follow-up on this forum and on some of the teachers we've met in subsequent posts.
In the meantime, stay tuned to the Innovative Teachers Network for information on how you can get involved in the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forums, and travel with us to exciting destinations all over the world.