The world is changing at an accelerating rate. What once was science fiction—cell phones, videoconferencing, the Internet—is now reality. To prepare our students for a rapidly evolving world, we must continually question and rethink what education looks like. What structures do we have in place? What opportunities do we provide? What learning strategies do we deploy? How are we empowering students in the learning process? How can we make the education system better? These questions and more will help us make our schools the best they can be and empower our students with the skills needed to invent the jobs of the future.
In this episode, we look into these questions and more about the future of education. While we don’t have all the answers, we begin to ask important questions and define core components that can lead to an effective classroom of the future. Join us for our conversation as we explore the attributes and qualities of schools of the future.
One of the most important questions any school or teacher can ask is simple: ‘How can we be more thoughtful about what we do?’ Unfortunately, it’s not the question we ask most frequently. The question schools and teachers have fallen in love with — ‘What more should we be doing?’
Chris Lehmann and Zac Chase, authors of Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need
The following resources are available on AVID Open Access to explore this topic in more depth:
- Accelerate Learning as We Build Back Better (article collection)
- Empower Students Through Creativity and Choice (article collection)
- Engage Students Through Inquiry Learning (article collection)
- Explore Blended Learning Strategies to Support Your Virtual Classroom (article collection)
- Inspire Students With Project-Based Learning (article collection)
Attributes to Consider as We Evolve Our Schools and Classrooms
We don’t have a crystal ball that will tell us exactly what the future will bring. If we did, it would be much easier to plan for that future. Instead, we must rely on what we know about teaching and learning and apply these concepts to the conditions we anticipate experiencing in the future. By bringing what we know together with what we believe will come, we can better prepare our students for success. During our conversation today, we explore the following ideas and more:
- Student Creators: Students need the skills and opportunities to create. It is not enough to memorize and “know” things that can be easily Googled. Students must be able to apply their learning in meaningful ways and in multiple contexts. They must be creators and producers, rather than simply consumers, of information.
- Transferable Skills: Because the future is uncertain, students need to leave our schools fully equipped with a flexible and transferable toolkit of skills. These skills will allow them to invent, shift, and adapt to changing circumstances as needed. Most importantly, they will help students continue to learn, grow, and build upon a strong foundation of K–12 learning. These essential and transferable skills include things like communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
- Empowered Learners: It is no longer enough for teachers in the classroom to be the holders of knowledge who pour that content into the empty and waiting minds of students. Instead, teachers must build off of what students already know, be lead learners in the classroom, and model for students how to question so that they can further grow their skill set. Through these actions, teachers can engage and empower students in the learning process right from the start, and this approach can be the catalyst that provides students with the choices, context, and intrinsic motivation needed to accelerate learning.
- Provide Opportunities: First of all, students need access to resources and opportunities to enable them to have authentic choice in the learning process. Schools need to explore new course options, internship opportunities, and other exposure opportunities that align to an evolving world. These opportunities can help students become more aware of their career options and empower them to act on their talents and preferences.
- Cross-Cultural Knowledge: In a world that is globally connected through technology, our students need the skills and knowledge to interact well with people of varied cultures and backgrounds. This includes providing ample opportunities for experiencing both windows and mirrors into a variety of cultures. Technology is one tool that can help us open these doors and prepare students to engage in a diverse range of interactions.
- Flexibility: Students experienced increased freedom, flexibility, and responsibility during pandemic learning. We cannot go backwards. Instead, we must continue to find ways to build on these new skills of independence that our students have begun to develop.
- Opportunities to Grow Professionally: We also need to rethink the experience of our teachers. As more responsibilities have been put on teachers’ plates, less time is available for study and for improving their craft. If we want to support teacher growth, we must find ways to both give them more time to plan instruction and more opportunities for ongoing professional learning. How can the educational system be redesigned to build in these professional learning opportunities?
If you are listening to the podcast with your teaching team or would like to explore this topic more deeply, here are guiding questions to prompt your reflection:
- What are your burning questions about the future of education? What do you wonder?
- What are the attributes and ingredients of an ideal school or classroom?
- What barriers might stand in the way of achieving these ideals?
- How might these barriers be overcome, or how might we reduce their impact as we redesign and plan?
- Rather than simply adding more, what things might we be able to subtract from our current system to free up time and resources for the attributes and ingredients that we wish to amplify?
Extend Your Learning
- The 2 Biggest Future Trends in Education (Forbes)
- EdReady (The NROC Project)
- Reimagining Education: What to Keep/What to Ditch (Tech & Learning)
- How to Plan for a Future of Education Where Disruption Is the Norm (The Hechinger Report)
- What Will Education Look Like in 20 Years? (USC Rossier)