We know that technology is transforming the way we live; reaching into all aspects of our lives. We know that schools are mired in traditional ways of thinking and operating. We know that we need to do better to prepare our students for their futures. We know we have digital tools available to help us to connect with others to help and support us to embrace the changes. The question remains: as school leaders, where do we start on the journey of disrupting education as we know it?
In a world where technology can make all learning personal and personalized, the road to change is similarly contextualized. Schools and communities face unique challenges, have different resources, and have……Here is the challenge and the opportunity for educational leaders; the process of disrupting school can start anywhere, and begin with any aspect of learning. But it must start.
We started with assessment. We knew that our traditional assessment system was defining learning for students, teachers and parents in ways that were not appropriate for the learning we wanted for our students. By changing our assessment beliefs as a community, we could help everyone understand the powerful learning that ubiquitous technology unlocks. To learn more about that process, read Michael Crowley’s four part blog series on our process here.
Focusing students and teachers on formative feedback and the ongoing process of learning rather than grade averages and points acquired, allowed teachers to reimagine what learning could look like within the classroom. We needed technology tools that could support this work. Then we found that we needed not just digital, but also physical spaces that would support the type of group and individual work teachers needed to meet the needs of all learners.
And then we knew we had to think about the ways that our traditional schedule restricted the kinds of learning we were trying to achieve.
Roughly, this has been our path to date. It is an ongoing journey. Each piece has lead us to the next. But how did we know where to start? We started with that piece that we knew we needed to focus on. Assessment was driving learning, and we knew that we wanted to transform learning. It was the right place to begin with our faculty and our students.
By no means is our path the only or the best way to go. As educators seek starting entry points for transformation of schools, the key starting point is the vision. From there, transformation can begin with any aspect of learning that connects vision and the needs of learners. Leaders know the aspects of their schools that could offer entry points. Be forewarned, once you begin rethinking one component of school, which is often a major undertaking, the next steps become self evident. As do the next, and the next. School leaders need to take the first steps. The only misstep is not moving at all.