We are at an interesting time in education and on the cusp of major changes. Students think and learn differently than prior generations and rather than oppose that change, schools must adapt and be responsive to their needs. Today’s students are digital learners who have the knowledge of the world at their fingertips and educators must teach them how to analyze, interpret and utilize the vast amount of information available. In order to be successful, schools must actively work to incorporate skills such as collaboration, analytical problem solving and the use of technology within their daily curriculums.
The student of today demands an educational environment where the skills they bring to the classroom community are recognized and incorporated into the teachers' instructional practices. If we are to adequately prepare our students for life in a 21st century global society, education must move to embrace a hybrid learning model of instruction, weaving online and more traditional instructional strategies together into a comprehensive approach to teaching and learning. As we move into the 21st century we must build within our students the skills necessary to achieve in this rapidly changing global environment. We must encourage collaboration and the development of critical thinking skills. Rote memorization is not enough. Einstein stated, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” We must work to inspire creativity and innovation, training our students to apply what they know to novel situations.
Schools are a reflection of the culture of the community in which they reside and education is a partnership between the schools, parents and community. As educators, we must build upon the strengths, resources, and abilities of each segment of our population to insure that we support our families and community. Schools must partner with community organizations and governmental agencies and be a resource to help parents navigate the often confusing landscape of community services so that they have access to appropriate and needed supports. In these challenging economic times, schools must be fiscally responsible in their utilization of existing resources and find creative ways to supplement the traditional revenue streams coming from the state, federal and local governments. Education must embrace and support the whole child and insure continued access to curricular offerings that incorporate music, the arts and athletics in order to engage all learners. If we are successful in these efforts our students will be successful in school.
One of the most important ways for a district to insure its continued success is to recruit and retain strong, energetic, and committed educators. The best way to insure that those individuals remain is to create a supporting environment where staff members can grow personally and professionally. A supportive administration that rewards creativity and encourages its teachers to take appropriate risks is essential to this endeavor.
School systems must change and adapt to our modern society. The jobs we are preparing our students for are radically different than those present when our educational system was created. Rather than resist that change, we need to embrace this new reality. Educators must work to continually incorporate new strategies into their instructional practices in order to effectively move our schools forward. It is the educator’s duty to model and promote a group dynamic that fosters a collaborative spirit and encourages students to be optimistic and enthusiastic about the work they are performing. Inspirational speaker and practical philosopher Tom Morris states, “Do not allow what is very good to keep you from what is best.” These are the challenges facing educators today. How we rise to meet those challenges remains to be seen.