Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10 ways to transform the way we do education

1). Let's take what the most innovative and progressive companies are doing and try and replicate it within our schools... Far too often education is behind and lacking when it comes to what is happening in everyday society. Education is constantly in a state of reaction and is very rarely setting the tone for what happens in the lives of most. Education should be learning from the trend-setting companies and organizations that are leading the way rather than constantly responding to the trends being set by others.

2). Let's require and build time into the schedule for teachers to go observe other teachers... There's no argument that teachers observing other teachers is one of the best forms of professional growth, yet we don't require it or build time into the everyday schedule for teachers to do it. Let's hire a few more teachers so we can free up some time and then let's get teachers learning from other teachers. A more effective teaching staff for a few extra dollars sounds like a good investment to me.

3). Let's revamp, revisit, and retarget our hiring procedures and practices... The hiring practice and general education system tend to reward and attract very conservative, very 'safe', and very predictable educators. Most in education played the game of school very well and thrived in the traditional school setting. Maybe it's time we hired a few folks who didn't fit the mold and those who maybe bucked the system from time-to-time... maybe we need some folks who didn't thrive in the traditional system to help us see how we can improve it for everyone...

4). Let's eliminate the ridiculous practice of having bells and having each and every second a student is at school consumed with 'tasking...' We jam pack every single day at school for students and most (including educators) barely have any time to eat lunch or go to the restroom. We believe that any time not structured is lost time and wasted time, but in reality we are turning school into a job for many of our students. The most innovative companies know ideas and learning need time to simmer and take time to cook... we need to ensure we build this kind of time into the typical school day and we can't just focus on time utilization, but rather on time maximization.

5). Let's start using the 'wasted' spaces in our buildings for learning... Enough said.

6). Let's commit to having students create as much as they consume... When we simply have our students consume information, they are merely taking and giving nothing back. Of course, our kids need to know some stuff before they can do too much, but when our kids consume it should be with the goal of creating something even better in return.

7). Let's require administrators to teach a general education class as part of their administrative duties... If administrators are the instructional leaders in their buildings, then they need to be in the 'trenches' with teachers demonstrating and showcasing their skills. This practice is used in countries around the world, and if we truly value the expertise of our building leaders, then they need opportunities to keep the saw sharp by working with students in a classroom setting.

8). Let's make a commitment to providing more unstructured time for exploration and discovery... The makerspace movement is gaining moment for a reason, and it's because kids are encouraged to explore and discover by creating, tinkering, taking apart, and building. We need more learning spaces in our schools and in our classrooms for kids to do unstructured learning and untethered exploration. Sure, things won't work and lots of stuff will fail, but it's in failure that true learning becomes possible.

9). Let's make opportunities and access to resources a higher priority than just salary... So, don't get me wrong, money matters and money is important. But, what if instead of giving folks more money for simply being a year older, we focused on providing those who demonstrate a willingness, commitment to, and learner-centered mindset, opportunities and resources that not everyone gets? What if our rockstars got the best and newest technologies before others? What if our innovators and risk-takers got opportunities to attend the best and biggest learning conferences? It's not about being fair and equitable, it's about recognizing and rewarding those who are doing what's best for kids.

10). Lastly and most importantly... let's stop holding onto and wishing what was will return and replace that mindset with taking full advantage of what could be and will be... We can't let our simple and closed adult minds get in the way of the mind of a child which sees no limits and barriers. Our top priority as educators should be to ensure kids leave the same way as they found us in regard to their free-flowing and open-minded approach to life.

So, let's start transforming... the world needs you.