The profession of education is going through unprecedented change. Many aspects of teaching and school will eventually never be the same again — nor should they. Although wholesale and fundamental change is slow, there are some things that educators will have to accept and embrace, if they plan on being successful and staying in the profession. They are:
- Education is more PUBLIC than ever. I am tired of the word “transparency” – and that is really just the beginning of being “public” as an educator in our changing paradigm. We need to showcase our professional work as educators, as well as the work of our students, with larger communities. Venues such as YouTube, Twitter and all social media outlets will be a foundational way for us to continue the idea of being public. Every classroom, school, district and beyond will be daily showcases to the world of what they are doing.
- Educators have to COLLABORATE. The word collaboration has almost become cliché. However, as overused as it is, it is an imperative. Educators need to collaborate with other educators (across their campuses and across the globe) on everything from best practices to project ideas. And if educators are doing this only because it’s an expectation, rather than an opportunity, they will undoubtedly miss the true benefits of collaboration.
- Educators have to CREATE curriculum. The days of depending on a textbook or one packaged curriculum are on their final march. Because of new standards, technology and our ever-changing world, educators will be required to and expected to be curriculum creators. They will need to be curators of varied resources and work together with their students, colleagues and schools to create and customize unique learning experiences.
- Educators will have to be serious users of TECHNOLOGY. Whether educators embrace the use of technology wholeheartedly or not, they will have to continually figure out a way to maximize their work, as well as the work of their students, using online resources and applications. One does not need to be an expert at all technology, but rather maintain an open mind on how to maximize their students’ success using technology. Our job to take the best of the best in available resources and tools in order to optimize the opportunities and success for all students whom we work with in any capacity.
- Educators need to facilitate COMMUNITY. In an era where students have multiple options on how their education is delivered, including 100% online while at home, educators will need to continually develop and enhance their learning communities. Students have and will ask why should they come to school or why should they come to a particular school. The relationships, culture and opportunities educators create and foster will make the difference. Will one’s classroom be friendly, supportive, individualized, customized, equipped, exciting, engaging and more? It better be.
Michael Niehoff is currently a systems & leadership coach in the Curriculum & Instruction Division of the Fresno County Office of Education. He has been a secondary educator for 25 years as a teacher, advisor, director of activities, learning director and principal. After starting his career in media, he became an educator to empower students to create, innovate and advocate. His students, programs and school sites have been recognized by Apple, Google, CUE, NASSP, NOD, AMAE, CLHS, CSBA, CVCUE, CADA, JEA and many others. He is the founding principal of the 1-to-1, project-based Minarets High School/Minarets Charter High School that opened in 2008. He is also a writer for for Inside USC Rossier, the blog for USC Rossier School of Education’s online teaching degree. He is a Google Certified Teacher, CUE Lead Learner and Buck Institute for Education National Faculty member who regularly presents on contemporary and progressive education issues. He is a past CUE & CVCUE Site Leader of the Year, as well as an ACSA Region IX Secondary Principal of the Year.
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