Education can be a jargon-filled, buzzword-loving minefield. We’ve got a seemingly endless cycle of new forms of assessment, changing curriculum language, different professional learning models, transformative apps, all of which will, potentially, radically change the way schools function. Each new trend has a new set of vocabulary, just new enough to be different. Teachers are swimming in a sea of verbiage, each “innovation” coming from leaders with different expertise: curriculum, assessment, leadership, change management, differentiation, educational technology, subject area knowledge.
The reality of schools today is that the fields of educational expertise rarely collaborate closely enough. IT Directors understand networks and systems planning, but not curriculum and assessment. Curriculum Directors understand assessment strategies to document student learning, but not necessarily appropriate technologies to support those goals. School leaders on all levels may know about social media, but are not active participants in these professional learning networks themselves. Technology conferences focus on tools, rather than pedagogy (there was a vibrant discussion of this on Scott McLeod’s Dangerously Irrelevant blog this past week). All are working flat out, with best intent.
How can we get these cross-disciplinary conversations happening in schools? The key must be school culture. If we develop a school where adults view themselves as learners, and model the collaboration we want for students, the lines of responsibility blur as all members of the community focus on student learning. At the intersections of this collaboration, lies the true potential for innovation.