Recently, I was asked in an email about my ideas on what are some trends that we should focus on in education. Instead of focusing on “technology,” or “new stuff,” I shared some questions to consider based on how we shape learning and leadership in classrooms now and in the future. These are the three questions I shared:
1. How do you empower students to find their own pathway now and in the future?2. How do you create a culture in your school and classroom where you learn for, about, and with those you serve?3. When do you create spaces for both leading and following?
Here are a few thoughts on each as I am trying to gather my own through the process of writing.
1. How do you empower students to find their pathway now and in the future?
Here is what we know about the future…things will change, and they will change quickly. That is the only thing we know for sure.
What is important is that we develop our students as continuous learners who find their pathways to success (and this is really important) in ways that are meaningful to them. My friend AJ Juliani says it best:
What this doesn’t mean is that content or basic knowledge isn’t essential. Those things are still necessary for learning. But it is going beyond information and memorization, where we not only understand but can create something with the knowledge we obtain. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. When we memorize information, it doesn’t mean we understand it, but when we understand and utilize information, we are likely to remember it as well.
This leads to the next point.
2. How do you create a culture in your school and classroom where you learn for, about, and from those you serve?
I talked about the concept of “learning about our students, learning for our students, and learning from our students” extensively in “Innovate Inside the Box” and why it is crucial in the growth of educators as well as students. We live in a time where we have unlimited access to information in our pockets, but more importantly, we have unlimited access to one another. Although I might bring expertise in an area of the classroom, it doesn’t mean I can’t learn from someone on the same topic with less expertise. If we believe that a first-year teacher can bring value to the learning of a 30-year veteran in education, do we think the same of our students? Creating spaces where we tap into the collective wisdom of our students, as well as students tapping into and seeing value in the different perspectives of one another, is a skill that will carry with learners long past their time in school.
3. When do you create spaces for both leading and following?
If we are going to create spaces where we see the value of learning from others, we have to develop ourselves and students as good leaders and followers. For years, I have focused a tremendous amount of energy on the idea that we need to build all of those that we serve as leaders, and this is still something that I believe. When I discuss the concept of leadership, I think of it as merely helping others move forward in a positive direction in any specific area, not that “everyone is a boss.” But what I have been missing in this concept is the idea that if we all can develop as leaders, we also have to develop as followers. When others bring ideas to the table, do we elevate their learning or also at the moment try to find our own ways to lead?
I also shared about this idea in “Innovate Inside the Box“:
Great leaders know when to be great followers. Sometimes they need to lead from the front. Sometimes they need to guide from the side. Sometimes they need to learn from the back. And sometimes they need to get out of the way completely.
This can be as simple as developing ourselves to not only share ideas but having the ability to sit back and truly listen to the views of others. If everyone is leading at all times, then is any group genuinely moving forward?
On all three of these questions, I’m still trying to develop my ideas and grow through the process. As I have grown older, I feel I have fewer answers and more questions, which I believe is an important skill to develop in ourselves and students.