Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shift happens

In education policy, though, wherever you mark the start, the shift is non-linear and not without challenges.  The new educational emphasis is on collaboration, accountability, teamwork.  Does it require trust?  Definitely.  Trust takes support, experience, and time.  The shift is from teaching to learning.  Gone are the quaint days of the one-room school house.  That is different than today.  Different does not mean deficient.  The shift requires using multiple strategies, sourcing media, creating original work developed in collaboration with others sharing the same goals for all students to learn and grow. 

Ultimately, everything about the system must support all students well.  Feedback is continuous even as the rapid pace of change continues.  Students today need to be prepared for college, career, and life beyond.  The shift is beyond what teachers want students to know and about focusing students on the complex application of knowledge to solve problems.  As has been noted elsewhere, we are preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist using technologies that haven't been invented in order to solve problems we do not know are problems yet.  Teaching not only requires a strong foundation from teacher preparation programs, it requires an attitude for continuous learning that is supported by professional development in a culture fostering collaborative work with colleagues to build trust and develop confidence. 

Some characterize our schools as becoming more standardized at the expense of meaningful and enjoyable learning.  It's true that state and federal governments (vis-à-vis MERA and ESEA/NCLB, respectively) require greater accountability from the educational enterprise.  And while we may all like to see fewer bubble tests, assessments from multiple measures developed by teachers identify individual students' needs better.  I believe our schools are well run and, further, continue to move toward greater responsiveness, flexibility, creativity, and student-centered learning.  Our schools are better than they were last week and even better than we thought six years ago.  And, they continue to improve.