The future of education begins here

For the last several months, I’ve noted with a smile that I’m in one of those rare professional seasons when all the pieces seem to be coming together. When I founded the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) nearly 10 years ago, the idea of independent teachers having a central voice in the major debates that […]

Future-Next Exit

For the last several months, I’ve noted with a smile that I’m in one of those rare professional seasons when all the pieces seem to be coming together. When I founded the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) nearly 10 years ago, the idea of independent teachers having a central voice in the major debates that shaped their profession and their effectiveness with their students seemed to be a radical concept. Why listen to teachers when there was no shortage of policy wonks, researchers, and union leaders to whom a policymaker could turn? What difference did it make that most of those individuals had not taught in an actual classroom for decades, if at all?

Fortunately, we are living in a time where a lot can change in a decade. Such an accelerated rate of progress has not always been the norm in American education, where reform seems to inch forward at a glacial pace and true transformation is the rarest of entities. But, there is something in the air these days. CTQ, and its Teacher Leaders Network, is fortunate to serve as a central “broadcast hub” for hundreds (verging on thousands) of the nation’s most accomplished educators. Increasingly, we’re fielding calls from media, influential Inside-the-Beltway educational advisers, researchers, and public officials seeking the input of expert teachers on key educational issues. There is a growing awareness, spreading like a sunrise over the horizon, that for any educational reform to take root and sustain itself, we must engage those who truly understand how schools operate, who deeply know how students learn best, and who serve as the greatest untapped agent for change in America’s schools. We must listen to our best teachers.

A decade has brought a sea change, and so I look with great anticipation and excitement for what tomorrow holds. And like I’ve always sought to do in my career, I’m looking to the insights of expert teachers in imagining that future. Through the support and visionary thinking of MetLife Foundation, it is with great pride that I now introduce you to a unique team of 12 highly accomplished educators from across the nation, the TeacherSolutions 2030 cohort. These expert educators have joined me and my CTQ colleagues on a year-long journey of research, debate, collaboration, and visioning. Our goal? To surface the major questions, currents, and possibilities of education in America in the year 2030.

How will the role that schools play in society at-large shift? How will advances in our understanding of how students and adults learn best transform teaching and learning? How can teachers – those with the deepest understanding of student needs and how to meet them – play a central role in this evolution? These are the questions we pondered as we pored over research, talked with leading thinkers, including Milton Chen of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, Dennis Bartels of San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Susan Moore Johnson of Harvard and pioneering digital educators like Wesley Fryer, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and Chris Lehmann. And we now reach out to you to share the results of this journey – knowing that the insights that all of you offer will continue to shape our thinking and expand the horizons of our vision. As you get to know my exceptional TeacherSolutions 2030 colleagues through this blog, an upcoming monograph to be released next month (Stay tuned!), a book hitting shelves in 2010 and additional forthcoming multimedia materials, we hope that you will join us in examining these critical issues and sharing your vision for teaching and learning in the year 2030.

One of the tenets of our thinking has been around schools serving an increasingly central role in their communities – reaching out to parents, social support providers, businesses, and community leaders. And so we offer to you now an invitation that we hope will also be the implicit invitation of every teacher in the year 2030: Give us your hands in building our schools; we will give you the future.

– Barnett Berry, President and CEO, Center for Teaching Quality