Whenever I talk about being an NAIS Teacher of the Future at home, Ken (the soon-to-be husband) says “Teacher of the Future” in a circa 1920’s radio announcer voice. It makes me laugh and gives it a somewhat superhero spin. It provides a comical twist to a really big thing. I get to represent my school as someone who has a voice in the future of education. No pressure there, huh?
But in all seriousness, I take this responsibility very seriously. We, the Teachers of the Future cohort and alumni, are charged with studying, reflecting, and sharing our understanding of the way teaching and learning should be in the 21st century. Since we are getting started 14 years in, we have our work cut out for us. While we will all study the aspects of Blended/Online Learning, Assessment, Student Health/Well-being, and Accreditation, we will really be looking at how education is “done” in the United States and elsewhere.
I think it comes down to asking great questions. I am a big fan of the Essential Question. Wiggins and McTighe define an essential question as “a provocative question that will foster inquiry, understanding, and transfer of learning.” (2003) As a teacher, it is incredibly important that I ask questions about my own practice. Is what I am doing a Best Practice*? This summer, I went so far as to read an entire book about asking good questions.
I begin a reflective process of teaching and learning with these questions:
What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How is it good for kids? What do we need to change to make it better?
As I ask these questions, I am able to refine my practice of teaching and learning and guide students on their educational journey. Without these questions, teaching and learning can easily become stagnant or sterile. With these questions, teaching and learning can become robust, innovative, creative, and, frankly, fun for the teacher and the student.
The fact of the matter is, we are ALL teachers of the future. The children in our charge are going to be the leaders of our world. It is our responsibility, in collaboration with their family, community, and friends, to give them skills and experiences that will prepare them for adulthood. (Again, no pressure, right?!) It is our duty to ask the right questions, to encourage the children to ask them, and work together to find the answers.
*This was our Norwood School summer read for 2014. Such a fantastic read for new and veteran teachers alike. Chock full of all of the things you should have learned in ed school, but probably didn’t.*