Rarely have policymakers listened to or does the general public get to hear America’s best teachers in our public discourse over educational reform. The Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) established the Teacher Leaders Network, a virtual community of recognized classroom experts committed to bringing teacher voice from the margins to the center of the policy discourse. CTQ’s TeacherSolutions 2030 team consists of 12 such experts who teach in diverse settings—spent over a year reviewing research, interviewing futurists, and looking ahead to 2030—well within the career reach of many classroom teachers today. Our recent Ed Leadership article is a partial view of what we anticipate for the future of teaching, to be explored more fully in our book due out later this year.

Our vision of the teaching profession by 2030 may disturb some and thrill others.  For example, students and families soon will have endless learning options. Teachers who can customize learning experiences and deliver them in both physical and virtual environments will be highly sought.

We see traditional school classrooms morphing into dynamic study groups, augmented by the Web’s still unrealized capacity for connectivity. Integrated courses  will be  the norm, and expert teachers will engage students in highly interactive global learning communities, using 3D web environments , augmented reality, and mobile devices that we can only begin to imagine today.

We do not anticipate that American society will perfect itself in a brief span of 20 years. In fact, by 2030, brick-and-mortar schools may be even more important, especially in high-poverty settings.  Team member Cindi Rigsbee, a North Carolina reading specialist and finalist for 2009 National Teacher of the Year observes, “We have to be more flexible, and lest anybody think we’re talking about piling on more work in the same hours for the same pay, we also will have to differentiate our profession to embrace all these critical support roles.” Education will become more efficient as teacher leaders and other school administrators orchestrate the strengths of a diverse team of pedagogical experts, content specialists, data analysts, social service and health care providers, as well as online mentors.

Standardized tests will be only one of many tools used to evaluate teacher effectiveness as local school communities adapt performance-based compensation programs that fit their context.  Guiding these reforms should be unions matured into professional guilds that base membership on levels of expertise.

We see the teaching profession developing into one which talented people can enter, advance, and exit via multiple paths.  The essential component of this vision is a requisite force of teacher leaders which we can begin to build today by investing in residency programs, hybrid teaching roles, and promising models of collaborative teaching that bridge both face-to-face and online learning opportunities, with teaching colleagues not just down the street, but across the globe.

We realize that our vision will require massive re-engineering, but we will never create what we do not dare to imagine.

Cross posted at ASCD blog.

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