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The world around us is changing. Education is changing. In fact, large scale change has been occurring for quite some time now. At first it was gradual – so subtle that it was easy to miss the technological and societal shift that was happening all around us. But now? It’s a full throttle race to be competitive and to provide an educational experience that prepares our students to take on the challenges that exist beyond school.
Our young people are our future leaders. They will be the next change makers and innovators, but only if we can give them the tools and experience they need to flourish. What does that mean for those of us in education? It means that the classrooms of today will look different, and the role of the teacher has never been more critical than it is right now.
It gives me great joy to support teachers in this work. In my experience, teachers are excited about the possibilities that technology brings but are also a little unsure sometimes of where to start. I recently co-presented the first in a series of workshops on how to flip your classroom with my colleague and friend, Maureen Clements. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “flipped classroom” it is, in essence, a type of blended learning which allows teachers the ability to provide more personalized guidance and interaction with students. It changes the role of the teacher – from head of the class – to something that more closely resembles a coach and allows students to work at a pace that is more comfortable for them.
Technology allows us to make use of this innovative approach to teaching and learning in ways that were never possible before. About 30 educators attended the workshop, ranging from those who are fairly new to the classroom to those who are nearing retirement. The energy in the room was amazing and one thing became abundantly clear: we are poised and ready to effect change in our small, rural county. Amidst changing tides, we find ourselves leading the way.
Change is not an easy task; we find challenges and difficulties along the way, but maintaining the inspiration and energy helps us look forward to the process. Inspiration generates motivation like nothing else can. It helps us go farther, get there faster, and tap into the power of the team.
So where do we go from here? We can start by making a commitment to inspire each other. Whether you’re in education or not, one thing is certain, our students are our future and we can work together to make it a great one. The work of Expect More Tehama has connected education to the community in new and exciting ways and has spurred conversations that continue to inspire. Every day I get the great pleasure of working with local educators, community members and colleagues who inspire me and that inspiration helps to move the work forward.
Start each day with something that inspires you… whether it’s a TED Talk, coffee with your mentor, a quick read of your favorite website or Twitter feed or simply a moment to ponder your reasons for choosing this path. Then take that inspiration and pay it forward!
Let’s also commit to challenging one another. We all naturally strive to do our very best, but having others who challenge us professionally can be very invigorating. That outside “push” can act as a catalyst for progress in a way that goes far beyond where we would take ourselves on our own. My colleagues and the teachers that I work with challenge me regularly to see things from different perspectives and to always have an open mind.
Finally, we need to commit to supporting each other in the work ahead. We’re talking about needle moving change and that just doesn’t happen without lots and lots of support. If you’re in education, be ready to support your colleagues when they need it and be willing to ask for help when you need it. As a community member, your willingness to support your local school, or your child’s teacher will be crucial. Support is one of the keys that will help open up a bold new future for our students.
Imagine, for a moment, the amazing opportunities that would unfold if we were able to do those three things. To inspire, to challenge and to support each other in providing the most innovative educational experiences for our students. Imagine the course their lives could take and the levels of success they could achieve with a community of support behind them.
A perfect example can be seen in the young Robby Novak, better known as Kid President. Novak, now 10 years old, is a motivational speaker, TED speaker and a YouTube sensation. He calls himself “the voice of a generation” and has moved millions of viewers with his talks.