Past TCS

The 2015 TCS Conference was keynoted by Taylor Mali.
Taylor Mali is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement. He is one of the few people in the world to have no job other than that of “poet.” Articulate, accessible, passionate, and downright funny, Mali studied drama in Oxford with members of The Royal Shakespeare Company and puts those skills of presentation to work in all his performances. He was one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and was the “Armani-clad villain” of Paul Devlin’s 1997 documentary film SlamNation. His poem “What Teachers Make” has been viewed over 4 million times on YouTube and was quoted by the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman in one of his commencement addresses.

Mali is a vocal advocate of teachers and the nobility of teaching, having spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and S.A.T. test preparation. He has performed and lectured for teachers all over the world; and in 2012 he reached his goal of creating one thousand new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance.” Based on the poem that inspired a movement, his book of essays, What Teachers Make: In Praise of the Greatest Job in the World, is his passionate defense of teachers drawing on his own experiences, both in the classroom and as a traveling poet. Mali is a highly sought-after keynote speaker.

Born in New York City into a family whose members have lived there since the early 1600s, Taylor Mali is an unapologetic WASP, making him a rare entity in spoken word, which is often considered to be an art form influenced by the inner city and dominated either by poets of color or otherwise imbued with the spirit of hip-hop. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books, 2009) and What Learning Leaves (Hanover, 2002), and four CDs of spoken word.

Mali received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop “Teacher! Teacher!,” a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math that won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 U. S. Comedy Arts Festival. Formerly president of Poetry Slam Incorporated, the non-profit organization that oversees all poetry slams in North America, Taylor Mali makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist these days, traveling around the country performing and teaching workshops as well as doing occasional commercial voiceover work. He has narrated several books on tape, including “The Great Fire” (for which he won the Golden Earphones Award for children’s narration).



The 2014 TCS Conference was keynoted by Amy Burvall.

A Humanities teacher for over 20 years in several of Oahu’s private schools, Amy is a leader in educational technology professional development programs. She is currently teaching Theory of Knowledge at Le Jardin Academy International Baccalaureate (IB) “world school” and attempts to juggle a YouTube career with creative partner Herb Mahelona, where they are known simply as the “Historyteachers”. Her work in the History for Music Lovers project YouTube channel, which features history-based parody music videos with over 10 million views, has appeared in Wired magazine, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Honolulu Magazine, CBC, NPR, and international blogs and media. She and Herb were privileged to present at TEDxHonolulu 2011 and Amy served as co-curator for TEDxHonoluluED 2013. She has presented at Ignite Honolulu (2012), Punahou Lab School (2012, 2013), The Association for Advanced Computing in Education (keynote, 2011), the Hawaii Independent Schools Association’s Schools of the Future Conference (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Kamehameha Schools Tech Slam and Imagine Conferences (2013, keynote 2014), EdTechTeacher iPad Summit (2014), SXSWedu (2014),  and in Vancouver at the British Columbia Social Studies Teachers Association Conference (2012, 2013). Amy has been an active participant-learner in several MOOCS (#etmooc, #edcmooc, and #teachtheweb), was named a Webmaker Fellow by the Mozilla organization,  and is a firm believer in radical openness, remix, and maker culture.