Let’s compare the average K-12 classroom to any career… are there many similarities? The few similarities that I can think of revolve around leadership. In both a K-12 classroom and in a career, someone is leading the group. Whether it is the teacher, principal, superintendent, manager, president, CEO, someone is setting the climate/culture for the shared space. There is also a shared vision/mission behind the work that is carried out by the leader. Beyond that, I cannot think of a career where an adult is expected to sit for many hours throughout the day and listen to their leader (boss) lecture them. Adults collaborate, continue to grow in their profession, share their craft, and learn at their own pace. This is not something that is done while sitting in one room with 25+ other adults completing the same monotonous tasks. Leaders in the business world want their employees to flourish, think outside the box, and excel in their careers. Why is this not also our norm for students in K-12 classrooms?
As educators, we should be teaching beyond the four walls of the classroom. We should allow students to be creative and learn at a pace that fits their needs. If we genuinely want to give students the skills and knowledge of the future, we need to change our practice! Electronically mediated teaching/learning can open the door for opportunities. Students can take charge of their learning and work in critical groups to solve challenges that are relevant to their world. As the late Sir Ken Robinson shared, when discussing the verb of teaching, we need to focus on achievement over task. When educators introduce technology, or utilize it in their lessons, they need to focus on what they want their students to achieve. Students are going to stumble, find new challenges, and come up with creative new solutions when the technology is implemented properly.
If educators set up their classroom to replicate the demands and needs of their futures, many classrooms would begin to have more similarities with careers. Tasks would be thought provoking, allow for creativity, and students would prosper with a broader curriculum. Once we quit focusing on tasks and task based learning, we can allow students’ minds to flourish!
This all sounds great in theory, but how do we shift a practice that has been ingrained in every human who has attended or taught in a K-12 school? How do we implement electronically mediated teaching and learning to support student in their future careers? Thomas Arnett, senior research fellow in education for the Christensen Institute, shares that life circumstances cause change. Life circumstances make people innovators. We need to push and excel educators who are excited about changing their classroom and purposeful usage of technology in the classroom. For educators who have not been exposed to life circumstances that have guided an innovative journey, we need to hand hold. Leaders and coaches need to provide opportunities to learn about how technology supports students’ futures. These opportunities need to be ongoing and in bite-size chunks. Teachers need to be given the opportunity to experiment and fail forward.
As an instructional coach, my main goal is to support teachers. To push them to teach at new levels and to meet them where they are. I have a birds eye view of the forest and teachers only see what’s in their tree. My goal is encourage teachers to fly out of their nest and begin exploring other parts of the forest. By introducing technology in small chunks, teachers are more likely to grasp on to new practices and be open to shifting their practice,
We need to prepare students for their future, but we can’t do this if we continue to run K-12 schools completely different from students future careers.
How to escape education’s death valley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc.
How School Leaders Can Motivate Instructional Innovation: https://www.christenseninstitute.org/podcast/how-school-leaders-can-motivate-instructional-innovation-a-teachers-quest-for-progress/?_sft_topics=personalized-blended-learning,teacher-of-the-future&post_types=podcast