Thursday was a very profound evening for me. It started with meeting some great new people in educational leadership, all with different skill sets in technology but how no matter how different our skill set, we all have the same thing set as our first priority, what is best for kids.
Watching the video Learning to Change-Changing to Learn really echoed some thoughts and reflections that I have had about 21st century skills that kids really need to be learning in schools today. I am a firm believer that students are learning more on their social networks, smart phones, and online video games than they are in some of our traditional bricks and mortar schools that we have around the country. Skills that our students need in order to be 21st century ready are currently not being introduced in many parts of the country. Having kids turn off their devices that connect them with the world is like shutting down the kid themselves. Students get up early to text message friends, check their Facebook, and learn something new all before breakfast and heading out the door to school, only to be unconnected from 8am to 3pm. Notice I didn’t say that kids were checking their email, email is outdated to this generation. If you are like me and can’t live with out your email then we are the generation that is behind the students we are educating, because those students can’t live without their Facebook pages. I go many days without checking my Facebook page, but I do not leave home without my phone that instantly lets me know when I have email waiting for me.
Careers that our current students will be employed at for the most part have not even been created yet. These careers do not require our students to be able to rattle off facts that are just stored in their head. These will require them to have a completely different skill set in order to be successful. Do our kids know where to look for answers? Do they know how to synthesis data? Communicate? Collaborate with a team to solve tomorrows problems? Thinking of these questions really brings me back to a core concept that every teacher has been exposed to, Bloom’s Taxonomy. These skills are really centralized around Bloom’s analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These are the three classifications that are the hardest for kids when working on school work in the traditional sense because they are not use to doing it, but you give them a tech tool like an iPad, it almost becomes second nature.
This responsibility of making sure that our kids are 21st century ready with a different skill set than most of us were raised with is not something that I personally lay on teachers. I lay this responsibility on the leaders of today schools. Leaders need to provide teachers with the appropriate professional development and time to use the tools that will help them educate their students with 21st century skills. Many times leaders give professional development to their staff for the sake of professional development without much follow up or further direction. If we want our students to collaborate outside the traditional classroom, then we need to give teachers the training and time to collaborate outside the classroom as well.
Recently I saw a video on TED about creating a movement that was eye opening. Creating a movement to help our kids attain 21st century skills is what is needed. Leaders need to be the first ones “out in the crowd” to be ridiculed, but it doesn’t mean they are wrong. These leaders are not the ones that help start a movement, the first follower does. They help transform the leader and create the movement. So what does this mean for me? If I am not leading people into the movement, then I need to be the first follower and show others how to follow.