About Me

After 23 years as a high school social studies teacher, I have taken a leap into library media.
This blog chronicles my experiences making this transition and my learning in that process.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Creating a Vision to Guide 21st Century Teaching and Learning

Without a definitive vision statement and mission schools lack a guide for decision making. How do we know if what we are doing is working if we don't first have a statement of purpose against which to measure the outcome of our efforts? The library is a vital component to the development of a school’s vision because the library faculty are:

  • Co-teachers with the whole faculty
  • Curriculum development partners
  • Professional development facilitators
  • Resource curators
  • Information literacy instructors

As more and more schools invest in and adopt 1:1 or BYOD initiatives, a rationale for those programs -- something more than “so we can teach with technology” -- is essential to progressive pedagogy and transformative teaching and learning. Of her own epiphany regarding the meaningful, purposeful integration of technology into learning opportunities, Jennie Magiera said, “I would have to be willing to depart from what I had always done or always taught. I needed to create a blueprint for a fresh classroom design with the power of my new tools in mind. By setting aside my preconceived notions of how my classroom ‘should’ look, sound, and feel, I was able to transform my practice from the ground up.” There are educators like Magiera reinventing themselves as part of maintaining the relevance of their pedagogy in a dynamic technological world. But this world requires whole schools, whole systems, to undertake this renaissance not as random individuals but as systems. Most teachers can explain their rationale for why they do what they do. Systems need a purpose (which is much more than a rationale), and educators need support and continual learning opportunities to evolve in pursuit of that purpose.

When the leaders of a technology implementation initiative are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of a new device roll-out, what should be the instrument of measure? Well, I think, the vision statement. The investment of time, finances, and human power in the tech initiative should have been made as a step toward fulfilling the mission, achieving the vision. So the vision is the measure of how well the initiative is going.

The unexamined life may not be worth living, but don't save the examination for the deathbed. We want students to be reflective learners and we, too, must be reflective practitioners. And schools and districts must be reflective planners. Act with purpose: common, examined purpose in order to transform classrooms into the constantly evolving learning spaces 21st Century students (and teachers) need.

Magiera, Jennie. Courageous Edventures: Navigating Obstacles to Discover Classroom Innovation. Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin, 2016.

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