Two weeks from today, schools in Minnesota will be in session. Our homes and schools are in a whirlwind preparing for the 09-10 school year. Parents are hopefully finishing their school shopping while many of our teachers are beginning to get their classroom ready for their incoming students.
But – will all our classrooms truly ready for these learners? For the past 3 years, Byron has been fortunate to have great thinkers share their thoughts during our summer’s professional growth academy. In 2007, Dr. Scott McLeod started his virtual keynote address s by quoting Bob Dylan’s phrase “Times are a changing…” The following summer, Doug Johnson described Schools and Libraries for the Net Generation. This summer, David Warlick presented to a group of 50+ Byron educators about the need for Byron school district to Redefine Literacy for the 21st century and the importance of educators to develop their own personal learning networks!
Today…times are not only changing – they HAVE changed. I began my journey with this district 13 years ago and as I reflect on how the world has evolved….it is astounding! Back in 1996, the district installed its first LAN with 30 Windows 95 – Pentium 133 MHZ desktops. Email was a luxury, gradebooks weren’t electronic, word processing wasn’t quite the norm, and no one had even heard of Google. Today, email is viewed as an archaic method of communication, students and parents have portal access to their teacher’s gradebook, desktop word processing is being replaced with cloud computing, and students come to class with Google in their pockets.
This year is pivotal. I have had many educators come to me with BRILLIANT ideas – Blended learning, Wikis, Classroom Blogs, Video projects, podcasting, and classrooms infused with Web2.0 tools to assess their students’ learning.
So what is the worry? I am fearful that there are still educators who are dusting of the curriculum and lesson plans that was utilized back in the days of the 133mhz Pentiums. Furthermore, I am even more worried about the future of the students whom will sit (and get) the same education as students did 13 years ago. As many of our educators are rising to the 21st century education challenge, taking risks, continuously trying to improve and develop high quality, relevant courses and classrooms, there are still those whom are perfectly content teaching as they did in 1996. Is this still acceptable? Are these classrooms preparing our students to truly be lifelong learners in a global economy?