What won’t we see in our schools?

I applaud the tech-savvy teacher who comes to the classroom understanding how to teach in 21st Century students.  Even more, I admire the teacher who started out with a traditional skill set and has determinedly evolved into a 21st Century teacher. What will we have to let go as schools evolve into 21st Century learning centers?

What’s the key to a student’s academic success? Kids learn best through the process of forming relationships while engaging in learning tasks that prepare them for the real world. In that case, our classrooms really need to look different.  A lot different! Forget passive kids sitting in straight rows listening to a teacher. (If they ever did listen.) Fast forward to 21st century schooling.

Shelley Blake-Pock posted a list of stuff we probably won’t see in a real 21st Century classroom by 2020, in the Daily Riff.  Here are my favorite four from her list:

  • Student desks. These will be replaced by furniture that facilitates collaborative environments with room for movement. We’ll have to rethink the classroom learning space. For one thing, we will need more space than the current amount allotted to classrooms now.
  • Desktop computers tied to labs. Technology is going mobile, and kids today even bring mobile technology with them to school – smart phones.
  • Backpacks full of textbooks. Books are going digital. Homework and lessons are going digital. Backpacks are going away.
  • Teachers who don’t use technology to personalize learning. Teachers’ jobs will include guiding students to become active, nimble thinkers and preparing their kids for a connected world. Instead of saying, “Take out your pencils,” teachers will be saying, “Turn on your cell phones” (or another digital device).

Now for my top four questions with regard to 21st Century schooling:

  • Will handwriting be a thing of the past?  Yes, according to Jason Tomasqweski in an article at Education World.  Typing is now the primary form of writing and that trend will increase, rendering handwriting obsolete.  (My next question – will someone please teach these kids to read cursive writing if not to write it? Chances are they’re going to need that skill if they have a reason to look at personal correspondence from their grandparent’s era.)
  • What will smart phones look like and be able to do in five more years? If they truly become a dominant learning tool for schools, then we need some real imagineers to come up with an affordable gee-whiz learning phone and phone services that offer an affordable education pricing plan.
  • Will students be getting report cards? Think about it – parents could access updates on children’s progress as quickly as teachers post those updates. Why send home a paper report card? They could also chat with a teacher more easily using technology than scheduling a visit and driving to the school.
  • Where and how will teachers continually retool and get new skills to promote learning? With the demands of the 21st century, classroom teachers may become the most tech-savvy educators in the school system. My favorite scenario would be professional learning teams of teachers in each school working together regularly to keep each other abreast of new ideas, knowledge, and pedagogy.

I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg here.  If you want some real eye-poppers about schools of the future, just type “Education in 2020” into a search engine and hang on. 

I began teaching when purple ditto machines were the modus operandi, and film strip projectors were hot items. (An aside – in my later teaching years I showed my students a short filmstrip one day.  They were completely spellbound – wanted to know what it was, how it worked, and what they could do with it. They ended up writing a script for the filmstrip. Remember when we used to let them create their own filmstrip slides? Wish I’d had some of that blank film – it would have been their greatest learning experience of the quarter because it was so different for them. Ah! The value of novelty).

Now, when I look at what our teaching world will look like (or need to look like) by 2020, I simply marvel. And I also stay on top of social media, explore apps for learning, relevant websites, and try my best to be current and involved in the digital present.  

I applaud the tech-savvy teacher who comes to the classroom understanding how to teach in 21st Century students. Even more, I admire the teacher who started out with a traditional skill set and has determinedly evolved into a 21st Century teacher.

Teaching is SO cool!

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