Furthering our School Community

I will start with a little confession. My name is Jen and I am addicted to TED talks. I went to TEDx Amsterdam ED in 2015 and I got to listen to an amazing group of speakers, including Hanna Jochmann-Mannak, Deborah Carter and Graham Brown-Martin.

Each talk was more inspiring than the next. The Theme for the day was the Education (R)Evolution, and speakers presented on ideas ranging from the purpose of education, finding a better Internet for our student and, one of the bravest talks I’ve seen so far, Putting the System Upside Down by 15 year old Lisanne Vriens. Lisanne stood up in a room full of educators and challenged us to do better, to break the system and redefine what it means to be successful in schools.

Though all of the talks were impressive, for me Lisanne’s really stood out. Here was a 15 year old girl, speaking in her second language and outwardly challenging teachers and administrators to do better. After coming home so excited and motivated by each of the TEDx Talks I watched, I thought about how I could help these amazing ideas worth sharing. I decided to organize a TEDxYouth event at the American School of the Hague. 

There were lots of challenges along the way as I worked to put a team of teachers and students together, there didn’t seem to be many people who were as into TED talks as me, and a surprising number of people who had never heard of them before. So, I decided to turn to iTunes for help and some assistance in spreading the word.


This video was aired at our All Staff Meeting and explains what TEDx events are and how teachers could get involved. Next, it was on to the students. The video below was aired at both our high school and middle school assemblies to get the word out. Then, students were involved in choosing the Theme, and voila, our event was born. (Minus the application process).


Our first TEDx event was a success! Our Theme for the day was Dare to be Different, a great theme for the students to choose, as we were in the early stages of our inclusion program.


  • Each talk was varied, but still connected to the topic.
  • Students were at the center of the event.
  • Talks were presented by a wide range of students, including our High School Inclusion class.

Areas for Growth

  • Event application and close out were a lot for one person (me) to manage.
  • Our videos recorded, but the sound was almost inaudible.
  • Widening our audience to include the entire school.

As we moved forward into planning our second event, which was held this past March, I was really pleased to see that we had already begun to make progress.

How did we improve:

  • We created a TEDx club
  • Students were much more active in the behind the scenes event planning, application and closeout.
    • Each student had a job, lights, sound, PR, videography, photography,
  • We created a system that allows our Seniors to teach our Juniors how TEDx works and train the student leaders for the following year.

I am looking forward to continuing to develop TEDxYouth@ASH events in the years to come. I feel that the COETAIL philosophy paired with the skills I have learned will provide me create and further develop our TEDx community, and create another PLN here at ASH.

Our videos are currently in the process of being finalized and added to Youtube, I will be sharing them on this post as soon as they are ready.

If you would like to find out more about our TEDxyouth@ash event please visit our website.

Jennifer Byrnes

My name is Jen and this is my 10th year as an educator. I am a fourth-grade teacher at the American School of the Hague. I have lived and worked in the US, Uk, Italy, China and the Netherlands. I have taught grades K-4.

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