The profession of education is going through unprecedented change. Many aspects of teaching and school will eventually never be the same again. And nor should they. Although wholesale and fundamental change is slow, there are some things that educators will have to accept and embrace (if they plan on being successful and staying in the profession).
These five are:
1) Education is more PUBLIC than ever – I’m tired of the word transparency. And that is really just the beginning of being “public” as an educator in our changing paradigm. We need to showcase our professional work as educators, as well as the work of our students, with larger communities. Venues such as YouTube, Twitter and all Social Media outlets will be a foundational way for us to continue the idea of being public. Whether it’s for parents, administration, district officials, government agencies or others, educators need to fully accept that close doors and private work are gone (as well they should be). Every classroom, school, district and beyond will be daily showcases to the world of what one is doing. Educators will have to be comfortable and excited about showcasing and sharing, or they will have to find a new career.
2) Educators have to COLLABORATE – the word collaboration is almost becoming a cliché. However, as overused as it is, it is an imperative. Educators need to collaborate with other educators (across their campuses and across the globe) on everything from best practices to project ideas. And if educators are doing this only because it’s an expectation, rather than an opportunity, they will undoubtedly miss the true benefits of collaboration. All industries and professions today embrace the concept of real world collaboration – with their immediate colleagues, as well as with those around the world that have new ideas, concepts and challenges to share. Like so many other things, educators need to lead collaboration opportunities or find one of those rare professions today where isolation is still the norm (good luck on that one too).
3) Educators have to CREATE curriculum – the days of depending on a textbook or one packaged curriculum are on their final march. Because of new standards, technology and our ever-changing world, educators will be required to and expected to be curriculum creators. They will need to be curators of varied resources and work together with their students, colleagues and schools to create and customize unique learning experiences. There have always been educators from the beginning of time who did this for a variety of reasons. But we have also embraced a programmed system for years that where curriculum was lead by chapters and tests from textbooks and/or fancy binders. The times are a changin’ – many will be excited and say it’s about time, while some may shed tears as their teachers’ editions and packaged resources eventually disappear. For those that enjoy the idea of finding the best resources, ideas, projects - and continually mixing them like an educational DJ or Chef – they will get the big idea (s) and reap the benefits.
4) Educators will have to be serious users of TECHNOLOGY – whether educators embrace the use of technology wholeheartedly or not, they will have to continually figure out a way to maximize their work, as well as the work of their students, using on-line resources and applications. One does not need to be an expert at all technology, but rather maintain an open mind on how to maximize their students’ success using technology. All other professions seem to realize that they need to figure out ways to embrace and incorporate the latest tools for maximum efficiency, productivity and innovation. Educators cannot be the exception to the rule. As professionals, we have to see how our lessons, activities and projects will connect our students to present and future opportunities. Technology is obviously part of the fabric of that overall design and we have to see it that way. It’s not our job to pick and choose what we like in the world and make that our educational foundation. Rather our job to take the best of the best in available resources and tools in order to optimize the opportunities and success for all students whom we work with in any capacity.
5) Educators need to facilitate COMMUNITY – in an era where students have multiple options on how their education is delivered, including 100% on-line while at home, educators will need to continually develop and enhance their learning communities. Students have and will ask why should they come to school or why should they come to a particular school. Educators will need to answer that question. And because students could just stay home, what are some answers? The relationships, culture and opportunities educators create and foster will make the difference. Will one’s classroom be friendly, supportive, individualized, customized, equipped, exciting, engaging and more? It better be. Educators will have to move away from the past where students just showed up to an environment where students will be choosing to show up – and they will be choosing or not choosing based on the successful presence of the aforementioned qualities of the educator’s classroom and learning environment.
(images courtesy of Minarets High School, Foter, Twitter)