Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One Small Step for Students, One Giant Leap for our School. (Part 3/3)

In a recent tweet world-renowned educational researcher, Dr. Michael Fullan, warned against the allure of technology and emphasized to conference goers that "pedagogy is harder and deeper". He went on to say that the "the big change is mobilizing students and teachers". This post will show that our teachers not only have a high moral compass, but have found digital north in the classroom. 

Digital North
The influential Bill and Melinda Gates addressed their Annual Letter to teens this year because of their belief that this generation will need to solve the pressing issues of our time. We agree. We also affirm that for students to dynamically impact their world, they'll need to master technology as an essential tool. Tech, however, is not a panacea or cure-all. These talks by Derek MullerJohn Hattie and Matthew Stoltzfus shaped some of our thinking in developing our own app-edagogy only to discover that there's nothing new under the sun, but we might have coined a new term. :-) I've had the privilege to present on this framework on at least three occasions (EARCOS Leadership Conference and Google Summit Events) and feel satisfied that we have done the deep and hard work of pedagogy. 

While it is an honor to be trusted with leadership, partnering with parents is by far the most strategic action a school can undertake. In January of this year (2016) we surveyed our K8 parent community to understand how we can better partner on digital citizenship. Participants clearly valued this topic and expressed a desire that we protect students' online learning experience. I'm confident that the school's supervision is not only adequate and sufficient, but also technically sophisticated (open DNS tracking, Barracuda web filters, enabled safety mode, etc.). Our school culture is not a permissive one. In addition to the above-mentioned preventative measures, a reasonable technology contract based on privileges and consequences has been set up to guide students toward maturity. We consistently employ teaching, mentoring, counseling and advisory as we do our part to populate cyberspace with students who are careful to pin digital citizenship in every footprint they leave on the web.    

2020 and Beyond
The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently compared the top ten skills of 2015 with the 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Complex problem-solving remains at the top of the list while critical thinking climbed from position 4 to number 2 and creativity charged in from 10 to 3. This should not escape the attention of educational institutions worth their salt. The real work of schools is to help students discover what they're passionate about, ignite their imagination, encourage divergent thinking, pursue solutions outside the box and teach them to critique the world around them. The aforementioned activities all align very well with our 2020 goal of creating a climate of innovation in our school. It is also encouraging to note that emotional intelligence and service orientation are among the WEF's top ten skills, especially in light of the fact that mentoring and service learning projects are an integral part of our culture. 

Being set on fulfilling our task, then, we recognize that technology is a tool that can no longer be ignored, especially after the Internet became the 21st century's Gutenberg press.