Monday, November 22, 2010

National Blogging for Real Education Reform

ASCD is sponsoring a National blogging for real education reform day. They are collecting blog posts from people all over the country on educational reform. One of the topics is "describe an educational community that makes a difference for contemporary learners". So here goes.
Educational communities need to develop their own individual plans for ed reform. Each district has unique circumstances that need to be addressed. The most important aspect is first the students' home life. The more stable their home environments the better the chance for student academic success. Parents need to stress the importance of education and be informed on what makes a positive learning experience. Parents need to get involved in the educational process at their schools and work with administration and faculty on positive educational changes.
The second most important piece of the educational puzzle is the classroom teachers and support personnel. We need to hire quality educators who have been prepared appropriately for the classroom. This is often very difficult due to the fact that college teacher prep programs are often behind the times on what young teachers need to be successful in the classroom. Changes need to be made at the university level to improve the quality of teachers being produced. Colleges and universities also need to recruit high quality candidates into their education programs. We need to work with the best candidates and prepare them appropriately. This is also difficult with all the options out their for our young college students. The issues in education and with unions and pensions is also a key factor that we need to work to improve to encourage the best students to enter into the education field.
Once we hire the right people we need to ensure that they continue to develop their skills and knowledge once hired. This is the job of the school districts to provide quality professional development to their faculties. There needs to be a systematic program that focuses on what our 21st century students need. Necessary skills for our students are critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and self directed learning are the top skills our students will need to compete on a global scale. It is difficult to focus on these and other skills when teachers have to get students ready to pass state tests but this is not impossible.
The third most important piece of the puzzle is strong school leadership. We need to attract, hire and train the best leaders in order for our schools to be successful. School administration is the group that does the planning and provides the vision to teachers and students. They must be quality leaders not managers. Also difficult due to the miriad of issues that now are present in the 21st century learning environment.
There are obviously many other pieces to the puzzle: appropriate funding, high quality curriculums and technology resources to name a few.
If we are going to reform education and prepare our students to compete with workers all over the world we need to focus on community, high quality faculties and strong leaders. If we can at least get these pieces together we can begin to make the changes necessary to create quality learning experiences for our students.
Its not a hope it is a must!

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