More than 1,500 teachers from all over Spain attended Grandes Profes! (Great Teachers), the educational event organized by SANTILLANA, the Fundación ATRESMEDIA and SAMSUNG. The annual event is aimed at inspiring and paying tribute to the work of teachers in classrooms. Digital skills and personal transformation were the main themes of this year’s gathering.
The event for teachers was also, once again, a great success on social media. The hashtag #GrandesProfes became a national trending topic in the early hours of the morning and rose to among the top trending topics worldwide on Twitter.
The journalist and presenter of the Sexta TV channel news, Helena Resano, was master of ceremonies for the event, which kicked off with talks by SANTILLANA’s managing director, Javier Caso de los Cobos; the vice president of ATRESMEDIA, Maurizio Carlotti; and the Director of Communications, Institutional Relations and Corporate Citizenship of SAMSUNG, Francisco Hortigüela.
Javier Caso de los Cobos said teachers were the main drivers of educational transformation. "Hang on to your personal style, your personal and passionate way of giving your classes. And use everything that’s new, both methodological and digital, to create your very own kind of teaching." Maurizio Carlotti, meanwhile, stressed that in this hyperconnected world, the role of the teacher is more decisive than ever. "The important thing is to ask questions rather than give answers". Finally, Francisco Hortigüela, highlighted that “with technology, children can better develop creativity and communication skills and, moreover, teamwork."
Jorge Arévalo, Deputy Minister of Vocational Training of the Basque Regional Government, focussed on the importance of equipping students with skills adapted to the needs of the future job market. Arévalo said that "much more important than technology is human development, people, that's where we have to focus. We will need people who are equipped for this new future, where we will all live in complex environments with very advanced technologies." He also emphasized that "we must not only prize evaluation, but above, all the evolution of our students… We must dare to change, we must dare to transform, we must dare to embrace confusion in an effort to improve what we are doing," he said.
Luis Martín, CEO of the innovation company Barrabes.Biz, provided guidelines for adapting to a changing world in the digital age. "It’s risky to try to address new problems with old solutions," he said. He also stated that "to date, data has all the power" and, addressing the teachers, he concluded that "our future is in the hands of the boys and girls that you are educating now, and I have no doubt that a bright future awaits us all."
The opening presentations were followed by a round table debate, 'Digital Skills in the service of teaching and learning', moderated by Carlos Magro, expert in digital strategy in the education sector and creator of co.labora.red. Participants included Dolors Reig,social psychologist and academic specialized in social networks and innovation; Mago More, expert in the application of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality; and David Calle, engineer and YouTube teacher (the only Spanish finalist for the Global Teacher Prize 2016). Together, they looked at at the keys to incorporating and developing digital skills among students and teachers.
Together, they debated the usefulness of ICTs and social networks as tools for teaching. For Dolors Reig, "collaboration and proactivity are crucial. Today's teachers need more networking." David Calle championed "treating students as if they were adults, as equals, to thereby relate better to them." Meanwhile, Mago said it was crucial to "bring education to all areas of students’ lives: to their playground, where they spend their free time, and to wherever they follow their passions, such as on social media." They all stressed that new technologies enable teachers to personalize learning and that it is crucial "to provide a proper context in which these new technologies make sense," as Reig pointed out. They concluded by reiterating the need to make classrooms a more flexible place and for each student to be able to follow his or her own pace.
There was a touch of humor too, as comedian Dani Delacámara recounted his childhood exploits and personal experience. “This is the first time ever that teachers are going to find my antics funny", he said. Also, as in previous editions, the event featured the section 'Great Teachers Look After Great Teachers'.
The master class that opened the personal transformation part of the gathering was given by the Buddhist monk Thubten Wangchen. A disciple of the Dalai Lama and founder of Tibet House in Barcelona, he showed attendees techniques for relaxing the mind and mindfulness. Said Wangchen, "happiness does not fall from the sky, you have to work on it day by day, you have to try to live in peace, in love, to be more friendly and more cheerful." He stressed that knowledge has no limits and that we can continue to learn throughout our lives. And he concluded: "continue transmitting your wisdom to children and be good people with a good heart, help others as much as you can, and if you can’t help, do no harm to anyone. That is the essence of everything."
The final contribution came from the renowned violinist Ara Malikian, who from his personal and inspiring experience, spoke of the ability we all have for coping with difficult situations. The audience was deeply moved by a number of violin pieces, especially the one dedicated to his son. In his presentation, 'I only know that I know nothing', Malikian said that "the profession of teacher is the most beautiful in the world, the most important, the hardest and the one with most responsibility. You are our future in society. You have to be a teacher day and night". And he insisted that "the important thing is that each child decides what to learn from each teacher ".