13. Organization of Educational Services by GradeNow this to me seems a lot more dramatic of a change. But, need I really 'worry' about such a change? Or, Technology in the Classroom: Myths & Opportunities by Alan November inspires us teachers to see these changes as a relatively seamless process. I'm just starting up my Theory of Knowledge (ToK) course and we watched 'Shift Happens' to be reminded of the phenomenal pace of knowledge growth in all areas, of course with special emphasis placed on technology-related developments. My students commented on how the 21st c. pace is all they know and that there's nothing really shocking to them about it. It's us adults who seem to worry about how to ably cope with the future.
Education over the next ten years will become more individualized, leaving the bulk of grade-based learning in the past. Students will form peer groups by interest and these interest groups will petition for specialized learning. The structure of K-12 will be fundamentally altered.
So then how DO we prepare to prepare our students to solve problems that don't yet exist on the planet? What about old-fashioned Professional Development (PD)? If the educational system itself is heading for a complete turn-around, then perhaps such is the case with PD. 'Why America's schools fail: Ineffective Professional Development' outlines most of the problems I've experienced with dead-in-the water PD—lack of time, passion, lack of professional learning communities. I've been involved in countless PD programs over the years, including conducting them myself. In fact, conducting PD workshops is a good way to evaluate their effectiveness. But despite the best PD programs, it's the sustainability factor, the 'I'm-going-to-do-this-in-my-school' factor, the 'I'm- getting-my-administrator-on-board' factor that makes all the difference. (Of course the COETAIL cohorts run by Jeff Utecht is certainly one PD program up for recognition—personal testimony as justification!) I'd venture to say that the more earth-shaking the change, as the #13 described above, the more factors in ones' favor the better to see evidence of reform. Using students as leaders is one such unique approach: 'Students as professional developers. Here's an upcoming conference with a networking partnership strand. We need something like these new PD approaches. We need to prepare teachers for the 'control shift.' We push educators into the 21st c. NOW. Isn't 11 years long enough? We need something systemic. We need commitment from more than just a small number. We need the PD to be embedded in our everyday world. We need administrative support—even Board support. Mentoring? Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)? These all sound feasible, but not unless we really want to do this—and I mean 'we' collectively. It'll take all of the constituents—admin included—to get into the 21st c. before the next decade ends—or before we end up going backwards!