Sunday, April 3, 2016

Change Needed Today to Prepare for Tomorrow

There is always a great deal of talk about what schools need to do now. The problem though is that most of the talk is not followed with action. Then there are those who want to act, but do not have the adequate support to do so. Herein lies the issue with all the change talk, rhetoric, and opinions.  Very few people reading this post will deny that the education system has to change now or we run the risk of preparing students for a world that no longer exists. 

Change is needed today to ensure learner success in the modern era, but just as importantly to prepare them for the unique challenges of tomorrow.  The reality though is that change in education becomes a balancing act with pressure from stakeholders on one side demanding increases in achievement as measured by standard metrics such as test scores. On the other side is the need to innovate in order to successfully cultivate the next generation of thinkers, doers, inventors, and creators who will be able to solve some pretty serious global problems in the not so distant future.  We have to stop looking at each side of the balance here and begin to focus on disrupting the system with bold ideas that blend results with meaningful learning.

Hence, I come back to the need to support schools and educators in this endeavor. For over 20 years the Model Schools Conference has provided educators with a learning experience driven by the districts, schools, and educators who have closed the achievement gap.  There is no better way to learn what works in a seemingly endless debate about the needed change in schools than from those who have successfully done it.  As a Senior Fellow with the International Center for Leadership in Education, one of my responsibilities is to help provide practical strategies for accomplishing change in the digital age. As many readers of this blog know, I am a huge proponent of innovative change that leads to actual results in teaching, learning, and leadership.  This has resulted in innovative changes to the Model Schools Conference to provide attendees with the skills, tools, strategies, and mindset to initiate sustainable change. 

Here are some highlights and areas of focus for this year’s event:
  • Closing the achievement gap and digital divide – Teams from model districts and schools will present proven pedagogical and leadership strategies on how they accomplished this in challenging times. There will even be a special Future Ready Schools strand.
  • Innovative spaces for attendees to learn inDesign empowers learning, which is why we want attendees to experience this firsthand. Connections will then be made to how we can begin to transform spaces in our schools to improve student-learning outcomes. LEGO will also be on hand to lead immersion sessions on the importance of creativity in learning. 
  • Making to learn – For the second year straight there will be a working makerspace staffed by local students and outfitted by Table Top Inventing. What better why to see how making impacts learning than through our own students?
  • The power of virtual reality – As a result of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s strategic partnership with Google, there will be an immersion experience for attendees using Google Cardboard and Expeditions. Attendees will also be exposed to emerging ways on how virtual reality can support rigorous learning.
  • Return on Instruction – A hallmark of the conference will be a focus on the Collaborative Instructional Review (CIR) process, which will be on full display.  This process can help transform every administrator into an instructional leader, capable of unlocking the instructional power of every teacher and, in turn, the learning potential of every student.

In addition to the awesomeness listed above, numerous sessions will be led by some of the most prominent thought leaders and practitioners in education today.  Join us to get the support to initiate the change needed today to prepare for tomorrow. For the latest updates follow along on Twitter using #ModelSchools.

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