Education Reimagined — Resources for Creating a Compelling Vision for Learning: Part 1
NOTE: This is the first in a two-part blog series on crafting a vision for the future of learning. You can find part 2 here.
Our most significant work in education is to focus on the future — not only the future of learning itself, but the United States and world context of that future.
What’s challenging about this task from a leadership perspective is that it is a moving target. In K-12 education, we have learners that span a wide range — those who will graduate this year and kindergartners who will graduate in 2030. How do we lead our systems in agile ways, responding to future changes near and far (and everything between) that are fuzzy at best?
A quote that fuels my thinking and action around this work of significance comes from “Illuminate” an inspiring book that proposes a framework for thinking about leadership in a changing world.
“Leaders anticipate the future. They stand at the edge of the known world, patrolling the border between ‘now’ and ‘next’ to spot trends. They help others see the future, too, guiding people through the unexpected and inspiring them to long for a better reality.” — “Illuminate,”
If this all seems to be overwhelming work in our current reality of limited resources, political uncertainty, increased expectations for results, and shifting accountability systems — don’t despair. In this blog series, I’d like to share some resources that have helped me and the leaders in our district stay focused on the work, rather than being distracted by compliance.
In part one, I’ll focus specifically on creating a compelling vision for K-12 learning as the purpose for school.
Start your journey in the now — start with learning. Engage all of your stakeholder groups (students, teachers, administrators, board members, community members, and especially learners) in a conversation around learning. Here are some questions you might ask:
- How do you best learn in school?
- How do you best learn outside of school?
- What is your most memorable learning experience?
- What made it memorable?
- What knowledge, skills, and dispositions will our learners need to be successful whether they graduate in 2018 or in 2030?
- What kind of learning environments will best support the development of competencies to ensure success?
I have found one of the best places to start is “Education Reimagined.” Be sure to read “A Transformational Vision for Education in the US” and “The Practitioner’s Lexicon.” Both documents will push your current thinking and mindset to pivot toward the learner — away from a school-centered paradigm to a learner-centered paradigm characterized by five elements:
- Competency-based learning
- Personalized, relevant, and contextualized learning
- Learner agency
- Socially embedded learning
- Open-walled learning
In Salisbury Township School District,my colleague Lynn Fuini-Hetten and I spent a year meeting with representatives of all stakeholder groups to discuss the questions listed above in the context of a learner-centered paradigm of education. The result of our work was the development of our “Profile Of A Graduate.”
We also adopted the five learning elements from Education Reimagined and developed our own corresponding K-12 learning belief statements around each pillar. Together, the Profile and Learning Beliefs statements have become our vision for learning, grounding our conversations about preparing all learners in our care for an uncertain but exciting future.
In part two of this blog, I will discuss how K-12 leaders can develop appropriate action plans to bring the vision to reality.
About the author: Randy Ziegenfuss is the superintendent of the Salisbury Township School District. He’s also a clinical adjunct professor of education at Moravian College. Previously, Ziegenfuss was a classroom teacher, department chair, technology integration specialist, director of technology, and assistant superintendent.