Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Is In Store For Education In The Future?

I attended a meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association Zone 2/3 Trustees recently where much conversation took place re: the future of education in our province.

I shared my feelings that this is an amazing time to be involved with education in Alberta, as it appears we have much opportunity to contribute to significant education reform, given the provincial leadership with Setting the Direction and Inspiring Education/Inspiring Action.  Lots of work remains, but if the foundation remains change for the sake of improving the learning experience for kids and adults alike, then I am confident the work will get done!

I also used a favorite comment of mine to describe the state of education.  I'm not sure who the original source is, but it has been said that if Rip Van Winkle were to awaken today, he'd find a great deal different in society.  Cell phones, vehicles, computers, etc.  If he were to walk into many (but not all) schols however, he'd likely feel very much at home, with the neat rows of students and the teachers up at the front doing lots of talking.

We know an awful lot about how people learn, and about how we need to create an environment for kids that allows us to use that knowledge, but in the end we struggle to use that knowledge and change our environment within our existing structure. 

If you want to take a quick look at the future and see what is likely in store for education, researcher Phil McRae has posted a 'Forecasting the Future' article on the Alberta Teachers Association website.  I think his short-term, mid-length, and long-term predictions are pretty spot on!

Deep, rich digital connections, distributed learning, different definitions of time, etc. are all predictions that I believe are coming true NOW. As the pace of change quickens, I don't doubt we're going to have to react QUICKLY in the future. 

I think we might need to start looking at our change management skills in the field of education to make sure we are prepared to adapt and change when the time comes!

For 5 bonus points***, who said:  "In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."?  I think that statement describes the challenge that lay before us beautifully....


***the quotation is attributed to American author, sociologist, and philosopher Eric Hoffer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The First Days of School

When times are busy, and chaotic, my natural reaction is to make a list, get down to business, and start striking things off the list.

Busy and chaotic sounds like the first day of school, doesn't it?  On the first day of school however, I think that focus on tasks and efficiency is the absolute LAST approach to take to making it through the day.  There is an old saying that suggests you only get one chance to make a first impression.  The first day of school is when the relationships that teachers will have with their students for the year begin to be formed.  It is important to take the time to get to know them, to begin making deposits into the relationship bank account, and to focus for the day on the social and emotional needs of the people in the building, and not the curriculum, and the rules, and the needs of the system.

To that end, here is a GREAT list of tips for attending to social emotional needs on the first days of school by engaging kids as important stakeholders in the learning process.  I love the first one, about making the atmosphere one of festivity: 

Have a great year everyone!