(Cross-posted from the Official Microsoft Blog)

School may be out for summer, but for many highly-motivated teachers and school leaders, there is no break. Educators are hard at work scouring the Web and connecting with their peers, looking for new teaching ideas to inspire their kids next year and taking professional development classes to hone their skills.

On Thursday, 100 educators from 25 states will attend the first day of the U.S. Innovative Education Forum (IEF), Microsoft’s premier educator recognition event, now in its seventh year. These educators are being celebrated for their innovative use of technology in their curriculum. Their creative approaches are having a transformational impact at their schools and students are benefiting by learning new skills that will help them prepare for their future in the workforce or after college.

This event is designed to give participants a valuable professional development opportunity where they will meet top educators from around the country who are similarly passionate about improving education by infusing technology into projects and changing the lives of children. In the end, it’s a competition, and they are vying to be at the top of the class as the best of the best move on to a bigger opportunity to compete and collaborate with educators from around the world at the Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington D.C. Nov. 6 to Nov.11. If you go to our TeachTec blog, you can read more about the amazing work these educators are doing.

The Innovative Education Forum shines a spotlight on some of the nation’s top educators. It provides them the opportunity to network and collaborate in real time as they develop a class project together weaving technology into the plan. They take what they have learned back to their classrooms, schools and districts to help spread the notion that innovation elevates education.

The agenda for these educators over the two-day forum includes project presentations which will be evaluated by a panel of judges, learning excursions to some of Seattle’s best known landmarks such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, and hands-on technology workshops using Microsoft’s latest software for education. These educators will also have the opportunity to hear two inspiring keynote speeches by Dr. John Medina, author of the New York Times bestseller "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School” and world-renowned game designer Dr. Jane McGonigal, author of “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.” These keynotes will be streamed live for anyone who wants to see them.

Microsoft is one of the only companies to organize an event of this nature for educators on a global scale, as 10 finalists from this event will go on to showcase their work at a worldwide forum this fall. We realize there are thousands of teachers doing amazing things for their students who don’t get the recognition that they deserve. The Innovative Education Forum was created to not only celebrate innovative practices in education, but amplify what educators are doing so their ideas can be scaled and others can be inspired by these best practices. Over the past seven years we have held this event in the U.S., we have heard from many educators that the event has changed their teaching practice - making them better educators. Some of those teachers talked about IEF in the video below:

 

The opportunity to collaborate with others passionate about changing the world with education and improving the lives of students is a priceless career opportunity that rejuvenates our educators, and in turn, improves the learning experience for our students. Last year, U.S. computer science teacher Pat Yongpradit won top prize at the worldwide event in South Africa. Who’s next?

Posted by Andrew Ko
Senior Director, U.S. Partners in Learning, Microsoft