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Is the Future Now?

I spent a couple days last week with 20 of the best teachers from around the country. I hoped to publish this on our group blog Future of Teaching 2030 but have run into a technical difficulty beyond my control so here it it.

Meeting these outstanding teachers was really a treat made possible by the supporting organization The Center for Teacher Quality. In attendance were three State teachers of the year, including Bob Williams (Alaska), Marguerite Izzo (New York) and Cindy Rigsbee (North Carolina), one of the top three NTOY finalist for 2009. There were also young forward thinking teachers like Julianna Dauble from the Washington New Millenium Initiative (NMI), Zachary Rupp and Isabella Campos-Woytek Denver NMI, and Ben Crosby of the Bay Area NMI. Teacher Ambassadors Patrick Ledesma (2009 Classroom Fellow) and Jon Eckert (2009 USDOE Washington Fellow) and NBCTs like Nina Daye and Sarah Henchy. There was a mixture of seasoned professionals including Susan Graham, Marsha Ratzel, and Ernie Rambo. There were some prototypical teachers from the future like Lori Nazareno, one of group of teachers who began a teacher led school in Denver CO., Kristoffer Kohl a teacher/data strategist from (NMI Las Vegas), and Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a middle school teacher near L.A who teaches English with 21st century online and face to face tools including the World of Warcraft. Ariel Sacks, a fantastic blogger and forward thinking teacherprenuer as well as a contributor to Teaching 2030, along with Cindy Rigsbee and myself were there to relate our work back to the efforts of the TS2030 team.

When we got together the creative sparks flew as they can when passionate, professional teachers get together. As we talked we welded together an armature for the direction of our efforts to support teachers in creating the profession students deserve. Our conversation was all over the board but based on four emergent realities that have been identified by the Teaching 2030 team. The realities, a transformed learning ecology, seamless connections in and out of cyberspace differentiated professional pathways, and the expansion of teacherpreneurism.
Much of our discussion centered around making these emerging realities happen. We didn’t talk much about their opposite and less desirable though thoroughly possible emerging realities: less student and teacher imput into the learning relationship, cyberspace as a threat to substantive learning, the devaluing of teaching until it becomes a retail style position with little room for professional growth and highly prescribed roles and curricula, and the descent of teachers into the role of consumers of curriculum and reforms defined by more powerful players outside of classrooms.
Some of the questions that emerged from our discussion were:
How do we arrive at meaningful student outcomes instead of just measurable ones?
What role will unions play in the future?
How do we create room for differentiated teacher roles?
How do we support and maximize the expertise of teachers?

What do you think? Lets talk amongst ourselves. 🙂

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1 Comment

  • Shannon Cde Baca August 20, 2010

    Wish I could have been there to listen to the full richness of the discussion. Your 4 big questions are an interesting mix. The one about unions in particular. Rather than a role I wonder what we need in the place of unions that will expand efforts on the last two questions (differentiated teacher roles and expertise). Unions have become a bit too big to be as effective as they were when their mission was a bit less muddled.
    If you had to focus your energies of working on one of these issues…which one would it be? I ask that not from an interest point but from a prioritizing one. If we pick the right starting point the other questions become easier (not easy).

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