Director of Learning Services – Learning and teaching, and even parenting in 2018 is incredibly complex. The mindset that is required to navigate these dynamic times is one of flexibility, continuous growth and reflection. The inclusive and diverse classrooms that are the 2018 norm require keen attention, structures, protocols and goals to create the culture and environment to effectively facilitate students’ acquisition and development of competencies for today’s world.
In what ways are professionals and students expected to ‘shift’ their mindsets? Well, in many ways. Students are no longer merely ‘consumers of information’, nor are teachers the ‘founts of knowledge’. Information is ubiquitously accessible and students are not merely consuming and regurgitating information that is universally accessible to them; they are expected to create and contribute to the community with their critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of information, formulating understandings and insights that they can transfer to multiple contexts. Teachers are no longer merely ‘sages on the stage’, but facilitators and designers of learning, who consistently analyze and reflect on their practice in order to ensure students’ learning is relevant, engaging, and transmissible, ultimately allowing students to gain personal confidence and skilled competence. Assessment is not the ‘end in mind’ it once was, but is utilized to inform practice, understanding students’ strengths and needs, so that design of instruction can target areas for student growth, not merely ‘provide a mark’. With today’s diverse classrooms, recognition of the ‘one size fits all’ approach to designing learning as insufficient requires more personalized and individualized learning opportunities for both students and staff. With what we know of brain research and developmental psychology, student disciplinary processes have been revisited; the dated notion of punishment as an absolute consequence for poor decisions and transgressions has been married with a progressive restorative practices approach. The focus on the future, moving forward in a generative fashion, is the new norm and mindset permeating today’s educational world.
The Government of Alberta has recognized that the educational landscape is not what it once was and has tabled a new Teaching Quality Standard (TQS), Leadership Quality Standard (LQS), and Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard (SLQS) to formalize that. Key in the new Standards is the requirement for educators and leaders to be committed learners. As the TQS states, “A teacher engages in career-long professional learning and ongoing critical reflection to improve teaching and learning.” As leaders and learners, this is a lifelong commitment in the service of students. Heidi Hayes-Jacobs shares in her book Bold Moves for Schools (2017), when describing the seismic shift in teachers’ roles, “This change in roles may be one of the greatest shifts in our profession – from being the keeper of knowledge to being a model for how to learn.”
For students, staff, parents and leaders, ‘learning how to learn’ is at the heart of our work in 2018. With the creative, dynamic, exciting and disruptive world in which we live, embracing a growth mindset and leaning into learning makes each day a wonderful and rewarding adventure.