be the rudder

The world that I grew up in over 30 years ago is not the same world today. When you really think about it, the changes that have taken place in our society and the world are breathtaking. With the rapid changes in technology, communication, mobility etc. this begs the question what is our responsbility to adjust learning expecations to these changes? How do we prepare our future children for future jobs that are not even created yet?

Although seemingly daunting questions, it is important to reflect on our current educational practice as we attempt to address these questions in our educational communities. This fall, I had the opportunity to see the documentary, Most Likely to Succeed by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith. If you haven’t seen it yet (or read the book yet), I would HIGHLY recommend it (see the link below for more information).

The philosophy that seemingly permates the culture of High Tech High (the school that is highlighted in the documentary) is that students are true producers, not merely consumers of information. This belief that students are producers is evident in what the students and teachers share in the documentary. It is obvious that the students highlighted in this film are learning with purpose, passion and curiosity. So how do we, as educators, create this opportunity in our own school community? Well, as Azul Terronez, former teacher of High Tech High states, “be the rudder that makes small movements under the surface that cause a directional impact.”

As an educator now for over 12 years, I have found the power in learning more about authentic, personalized learning. Educational experts like Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins have long challenged educators to reexamine instructional practice and curriculum to determine if real, authentic learning is really taking place in the classroom. McTighe and Wiggins advocate that knowing what you want students to be able to know and to be able to do are imperative when planning any instructional unit of study. In addition, McTighe and the authors of Most Likely to Succeed would question, how are WE creating learning opportunities for students to lead with their head, heart and hands? This challenge question should be the very cornerstone of what we do on a daily basis.

So what can you do, you might ask? You might be thinking, I am only one teacher, what difference can I possibly make in the way things are right now in my school? I would challenge and encourage you to take the risk; you have everything to gain. Be the rudder. Step out. You have the chance, right here, right now to make a directional impact on our students future success. We need you. Our students need you to help them be prepared for their future success.

For more information about Most Likely to Succeed, check out the book here!




One thought on “be the rudder

  • Very thoughtful and will written post, Kristen. Thank you for sharing this with me on Twitter. I could not agree with you more. This posts drives home the idea that we’re preparing students for their future, not our past. Until instructional practices change, we’re doing our students a disservice.

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