Galinsky works with teens on TED talks

 Megan Zabilansky (Joel Barlow), Robert Galinsky, Kim Herzog (Staples High School)

Megan Zabilansky (Joel Barlow), Robert Galinsky, Kim Herzog (Staples High School)

Entrepreneur Robert Galinsky, ( an executive coach for adolescent speakers, recently came to Joel Barlow High School in Redding to to work on Teen TED talks with students who are composing TED talks.

Teachers Megan Zabilansky of Barlow and Kim Herzog of Staples High School in Westport invited Galinsky to work with the students. Barlow students hail form Easton and Redding. TED is an acronym for technology, entertainment and design.

The project took place March 15 at Barlow and involved students from both schools working with Galinsky. It resulted from the Barlow and Staples teachers’ experience last summer at the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University, where they are fellows.

Robert Galinsky works with students at Joel Barlow High School

Robert Galinsky works with students at Joel Barlow High School

Zabilansky and Herzog collaborated in writing a grant sponsored by the National Writing Project, the John Legend Show Me Campaign, and the MacArthur Foundation. The Connecticut Writing Project-Fairfield worked with the teachers and applied for the grant, receiving one of 14 awards.

Receiving the grant was “a huge honor,” according to Dr. Bryan Ripley Crandall, Connecticut Writing Project director and faculty member of Fairfield University’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

The award allows teachers to rethink time and space in their classrooms and to re-imagine learning through the use of technology, restructuring classroom walls, and innovative teaching practices, according to Crandall.

“Introducing Robert Galinsky to the young writers at Barlow and Staples is part of the vision the two teachers shared with me last summer,” Crandall said. “The LRNG Innovation Challenge Award has helped me to invest in the dreams and innovation of Connecticut teachers. It is a tremendous pleasure to advocate for the excellence of stellar educators in the state,” Crandall said.

Robert Galinsky, author of Coffee Talk

Robert Galinsky, author of Coffee Talk

Zabilansky and Herzog invited Galinsky, entertainment personality, actor, and writer, to work with students who are composing TED Talks as part of the grant.

Galinsky coaches TEDTeen NYC and works with actors, athletes, and others on better stage presence, public speaking, and harvesting audience awareness. He held workshops with the students from Barlow and Staples and offered advice on writing for the stage.

The Teacher Innovation and Tedx Teen Talks in Southern Connecticut event stems from the LRNG Challenge grant awarded to the Connecticut Writing Project, which is dedicated to improving students’ writing abilities.

Through the LRNG Challenge ( , a project supported by the National Writing Project, John Legend’s Show Me Campaign, (, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Educator Innovator is investing in teams of teachers who are working to expand the time and space students have to create, explore, and follow their interests and passions.

Barlow and Staples high schools represent two of the six schools from southern Connecticut participating in collaborative projects designed to break the barriers of traditional classroom walls. Zabilansky and Herzog have been addressing public speaking skills with their students and offering out-of-the-box writing opportunities for their students.

Connected Learning, (, research and practice has shown that young people can achieve and learn when given support and opportunities to follow their interests and the time and space to create work that is meaningful to them.

Following the theme of “No Walls, No Bells,” teacher teams proposed approaches to expand access to rich creative opportunities for the young people they work with and committed to sharing their solutions and lessons learned with educators across the country.

In most schools today, however, time and space are precious commodities, and students and teachers are both challenged to find time for deeper learning or the space to create. As a result, society may be missing a chance to support the innovators of tomorrow.

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