The Earl Center Prepares for an Active Spring

The Earl Center

“My vision for education is not for teachers to solely disseminate knowledge, but to teach students how this knowledge can be applied in their world,” says Dr. Greg Benoit, Assistant Director of the Earl Center for Learning & Innovation. “We have the opportunity to create new innovative experiences for pre-service teachers to explore standards rather than be taught standards.”

The Earl Center is Boston University’s hub for advancing instructional and pedagogical techniques that harness creativity and innovation for successful learning. The Center seeks to cultivate creativity and innovation in teaching and learning across the University, with a particular focus on the faculty and students of BU Wheelock.

Under the leadership of Dr. Benoit and an advisory board made up of faculty who were members of the former BU School of Education and the former Wheelock College, the Earl Center will spend the spring semester pursuing new partnerships and building new programs. Current board members include Dr. Don DeRosa, Dr. Ellen Faszewski, Dr. Megina Baker, and Dr. Stephanie Cox Suárez.

This spring the Earl Center aims to lead in professional development for pre-service teachers providing them with a variety of different workshops equipping the teachers with skills they can use within their practicum experiences. These workshops will center on design thinking, game-based learning, and computer science education. The Center is also partnering with the Explo Center, a nonprofit education innovator that brings curiosity and engagement to the forefront of teaching and learning.

Another significant partnership is with Boston Latin School (BLS). In collaboration with Lynch Fellow Doctoral Student at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, Gavin Smith, Dr. Benoit has created the Young Men of Color group for students at BLS. The group’s design pairs each member with a mentor, and who help guide the young men as they look critically at problems of practice in education. The pairs will meet at the Earl Center for monthly dinners, and an educational component convened by Dr. Benoit and Gavin Smith will occur on Wednesday mornings at Boston Latin School.

The Earl Center will also help facilitate a handful of new faculty collaborations this spring. Dr. Benoit will be working with Dr. Christine Leider, Program Director for Bilingual Education & TESOL Education, and Dr. Jenny Jacobs, Lecturer in Language Education on a project that focuses on students who are dually identified as being English Language Learners and Special Education students. Dr. Benoit points out that there are “rarely supports for students who are dually identified.” This faculty collaboration will seek to create an effective practice that accommodates the needs of these students.

On May 11, the Earl Center will be hosting an Emergent Bilingual Learners with Disabilities Innovation Swarm. This program is targeted for educators of students who are dually identified as well as special educators and will provide them with promising practices which they can implement in their classrooms. Dr. Benoit and the Advisory board have been working with surrounding districts to identify educators who have incorporated innovative practices in their classrooms and they will be given this platform to share and network. This program is connected to the Bilingual Speaker Series which is occurring on January 31, February 25, and April 25.

Finally, the Earl Center will be hosting a STEM institute with a pilot program in March hosting a monthly professional development opportunity for STEM educators around a variety of topics in various formats such as panels, discussions, exploration, and many workshops. Dr. Benoit says that this is “a way for STEM educators to hear witness and experience innovation technology and approaches that exist in today’s world.”

To learn more about the Earl Center and contact Dr. Benoit, please visit their page on our site.

– Grace Hagerty