The following are a few ideas intended to promote future-ready, critically- and creatively-thinking students during the coming school year. They have been rattling around my head as a result of several road and plane trips this summer where I’ve been able to pass the time studying computational thinking, design, innovative schools, etc. Some could feasibly tie easily into content standards in multiple subjects. Others are big-picture, broader actions that involve life skills beyond the scope of subject-area objectives.
In no particular order, every student will have the opportunity to:
help design the most effective learning space possible.
go through a process of creating something, testing it, failing, and doing it better the next time.
communicate with someone in another part of the world in real time.
share an accomplishment or work they are proud of with an audience beyond the walls of their home or school.
study something they choose and do something they want to do with it.
work with a team and, at least once, as a leader of a team.
teach something to the entire class.
ask lots of actionable, open-ended questions.
read books of their choosing from multiple genres, including non-fiction.
effectively defend a viewpoint on an issue of importance to them.
Another impact of the Simon Sinek book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action is that I have been giving thought to how I could put my why into one concise, easily understood statement. While not ready to declare it as final, the following is the current incarnation:
To facilitate meaningful and engaging learning experiences that equip students to reach their dreams.
Here are a few key elements:
- Facilitate–my role is to provide tools, training, resources needed for learning.
- Meaningful–meaning is a highly personal thing, and we should look for and offer diverse learning opportunities and technologies reflective of the outside world
- Engaging–while digital learning tools are exciting to a large percentage of kids, they do not equal engagement by default. The focus still needs to be on powerful classroom practice that pulls learners in.
- Experiences–with a nod to John Dewey, learning is most effective within the context of powerful experiences. Do the technologies and strategies I promote create these?
- Equip…their dreams–we as educators are beholden to standards. Goals for our students are dictated from ivory towers and governments. Ultimately, however, I think most of us could see no higher level of success than if our students returned to us to tell us of big dreams we inspired and how they achieved those dreams.
Finally, another thought hit me yesterday: What would it look like if we taught our kids to articulate their whys? How might making these concrete affect how our students approach learning? Would our schools even fit their whys at all?