THE BLOG
05/10/2011 04:32 pm ET Updated Jul 10, 2011

My Year as a Teacher Beauty Queen: Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum

Imagine that there was something called the Mr./Mrs. Innovative Teacher Pageant. Teachers from all over the U.S. would apply and be flown in to present on their creative uses of technology in class. Local and national media would be there taking pictures and interviewing the contestants. You would be wined, dined, and celebrated like a celebrity. It'd be as if you were a Kardashian... the one who is a teacher. In the end, as you strut around in your designer gown and heels, clicking through your PowerPoint, judges would evaluate you on your passion, pedagogy, and purpose. And imagine that you win! You get crowned with a stunning tiara and a singer croons, "There he/she is... Mr./Mrs. Innovative Teacher..." As a winner, you go on to a worldwide competition where you represent the U.S. as our example of beauty in teaching. If you are fortunate enough to be a winner at the worldwide forum, you would use your newly found fame to bring attention to education, represent teachers at events all over the world, and drive around in your gift, a new red Ferrari.

Well there is such a contest. Actually, it is more like a forum than a contest. It is the U.S. Microsoft Innovative Educator Forum and applications for it end on May 15. And don't worry, there isn't a swimsuit category, but, at the worldwide forum, there are categories in content, collaboration, community, and educator's choice. And all I said about being celebrated like a rock star and becoming a voice for education is true... just not the part about the red Ferrari. How do I know this? Because I won my category last year and I still haven't received my Ferrari.

Since then I have spoke on a panel at a congressional forum on STEM issues, learned to speak slowly on camera during interviews, presented at multiple conferences on issues surrounding Computer Science, and have turned down multiple invitations to parties hosted by sports stars and movie actors. If you are reading this, please stop texting me, J. Lo.

So are you an innovative teacher? Are you using technology in a new way to solve unique problems and meet the needs of your students? Are you creatively using resources and challenging students to think outside the box, as you do when you create your assignments? Then you gotta take part in this forum. Take it from a guy who signed up at at the last minute and had to be wrangled into it... the forum will impact you. Upon meeting teachers from all over the world and seeing how they were meeting their society's needs through education, I got inspired to relate all of my major assignments to social causes. And the media attention has not stopped yet! I had my students create a website, patyongpradit.com, to highlight all of the attention the Springbrook High School CS program has been getting due to the award.

So what's stopping you? You don't think you are innovative? I think the better question is: How are you innovative? You deserve to have a teacher pageant and be celebrated. Come join the community, and become a Partner in Learning. Inspiration, collaboration, and celebration await. Just not a diamond tiara. I'm keeping mine.