Vision for Learners
How People Learn
Learning in physical and virtual spaces.
The information landscape has changed significantly in the last thirty years, causing educators to rethink how best to blend technology’s capabilities with pedagogies into an authentic and effective system of education that meets the needs of today’s learners.
Given the ubiquity of mobile communication technology and human reliance on the device to augment and extend memory and abilities, learners today have a different set of needs and skills. Young learners are creative, innovative, investigative, and collaborative and have in their pockets access to the world’s knowledge, and multimedia creation and publishing tools. Learners need skills in managing information, communicating and collaborating and thinking critically to solve problems.(Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2015)
Learning must have a context and be meaningful. Where learners encounter a challenge they come to a robust understanding of the issue through experimentation, thoughtful and honest reflection, communication, and collaboration. Learners must also learn how to learn through guided reflection on metacognitive processes. Their learning is demonstrated through problem solving and creative expressions of their constructed understanding (Kereluik, Mishra, Fahnoe, & Terry, 2013).
Organizational Knowledge and Skills
Teachers need to reimagine their roles from that of dispensers and assessors of knowledge to craftspeople creating the conditions for discovery and development of self-regulation and metacognition in learners. More critical than content knowledge are the pedagogical skills that develop skilled learners.
Educators must be able to work with a learner to identify interests and then set out learning goals. Content must be relevant to the learner, integrated across subject domains and reflect real-world issues, must facilitate the acquisition of skills and knowledge, must build metacognitive and technological capacity, nurture independence, and promote collaboration (Saavedra & Opfer, 2012).
Today’s essential skills for both teachers and learners are metacognitive and process oriented and including critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and leadership, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity and imagination Wagner (2008). Today’s educators must be masters of learning, not necessarily masters of content, and today’s learners must have the skills to adapt to any new situation.
Promoting Organizational Learning
Encouraging experimentation, celebrating achievements, sharing innovation, and purposeful risk-taking empowers learners to take charge of their own learning. Reflecting on opportunities, creating opportunities from failure, and identifying those factors that made something successful, cultivate a climate of innovation and create an effective learning environment (Fullan, 2011, p. 80). The authenticity and congruity of vision, behaviors, and values make participants more likely to be intrinsically motivated and committed to the organizational goals.
I want my school division to be a community of connected learner-educators whose practice models what we want for our student-learners. Celebrating diversity and innovation that serves to address organizational goals in ways that are reflective of our shared philosophy. Inquiry, reflection, collaboration and communication in communities of practice should be the norm for both teachers and students. This is achieved by recognizing and celebrating effective initiatives, and communicating the lessons learned from less effective efforts (Yukl, 2013, p. 70).
My vision includes expanded learning networks for both teachers and students that extend beyond the local school and community to include all our division schools as well as mentors and collaborators around the world. Professional dialog should be ongoing and balanced with informal social engagement. Social engagement brings people together, creates stronger relationships, and contributes to the effectiveness of the organization (Pentland, 2010; Veletsianos, 2012)
Everyone needs to be connected to the larger group and to specific others for ongoing work support in teaching teams or mentoring situations. School timetables must be organized to allow for common meeting times for these teams, and for larger grade-level or faculty groups.
Collaboration within the building is important, but individuals will also connect with others in the division and around the world. Professional development on forming virtual learning networks will encourage individuals to broaden their base of support and opportunities for collaboration.
Within the organization, operational communication needs to be clear, precise, and respectful of people’s time. Frequent and meaningful opportunities to talk with every other individual in a team results in greater group effectiveness and collaboration (Pentland, 2010).
Beyond the walls of the organization, it is important to be intentional about our public image. Sharing and promoting school activities in news and social media can build trust and recruit supporters in the community. Doing so creates a virtual window into the life of the school. It helps parents and community understand that while 21st-century education may look and feel different from their traditional experience, it can be highly engaging and effective (Yukl, 2013, p. 258).
Fullan, M. (2011). Change leader: Learning to do what matters most. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Kereluik, K., Mishra, P., Fahnoe, C., & Terry, L. (2013). What knowledge is of most worth: Teacher knowledge for 21st century learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 29(4), 127–140.
Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2015). P21 framework definitions. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/documents/P21_Framework_Definitions.pdf
Pentland, A. (2010). The new science of building great teams. Harvard Business Review, 90(4), 60–70.
Saavedra, A. R., & Opfer, V. D. (2012). Learning 21st-century skills requires 21st-century teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(2), 8–13.
Veletsianos, G. (2012). Higher education scholars’ participation and practices on Twitter. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(4), 336–349. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00449.x
Wagner, T. (2008). The global achievement gap: Why even our best schools don’t teach the new survival skills our children need - and what we can do about it. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Yukl, G. (2013). Leadership in organizations (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.