8 Steps to 21st Century Learning
Lydotta Taylor and Jill Fratto
Corporations are constantly organizing and reorganizing in search of the most up to date, innovative and efficient methods of doing business. Ultimately, businesses want to make the most of their money and increase their bottom line. They seek more efficient work practices, better products in the marketplace, and more attention to detail and quality, be it product or service.
As the building block of our society, our schools deserve the same diligence that companies give to their businesses. Re-directing schools to adapt 21st Century Learning means change – which is not always easy. No matter how you look at it, change means rocking the boat. Along with the technology tools and skills that 21st Century Learning demands, come shifts in the way teachers think and teach in the classroom. For many, this represents a huge departure from the chalkboards and lesson plans we have relied on for years. So if we know it is imperative to face the rocky waters and seriously commit to creating 21st Century Learning Environments in our schools, how can we make it easier?
1. Communicate. Open and consistent communication is key when attempting to create large-scale change. The more your team feels involved in the process, the more they will buy in and the more smoothly things will operate.
2. Understand the Change Process. Don’t just go into the project without really knowing what to expect. The more educated you are about the change process, the fewer surprises you will have as you actually put new procedures in place.
3. Recognize Barriers to Change. Again, educating yourself can be your biggest ally in this process. If you know the common barriers and responses to change, you will be more prepared to “coach” your team through the process. Arming yourself with information in advance will make your job easier in the long run.
4. Set Goals. Setting clear goals that are timely and measurable will help you navigate your course with ease. Goals help us organize our action and move forward to the results sought. Further, when everyone knows and agrees on the goals, the team can move forward with more direct focus.
5. Work as a Team. The whole is greater than…well you know the rest. Working as a team can make the difference between sinking and staying afloat. Effective teams communicate, trust, support and inspire one another to the end goal. No matter where you are in this process, it’s not too late to enhance your team building efforts. Creating a cohesive team will be your greatest asset not only in building technology into your school, but in everything that you do together as a school community.
6. Create Accountability. Accountability helps people stay on target and not put their goals on the back burner. By constructing vehicles for accountability, you create clear expectations and a way that your team can support each other.
7. Evaluate. Evaluation lets you know where you are compared to where you were and where you want to be. It also helps you know what’s working and what could be improved. Evaluation is a sister to accountability because it also helps people stay on track and know how they are doing in the process.
8. Celebrate! As we all know, technology doesn’t stop evolving, so we never “graduate” to a fully technical environment. However, it is essential that you regularly look at how far you have come and celebrate. Remember that is it not just the destination, but the journey that makes you successful in evolving to a 21st Century Learning Environment. The more fun the journey, the less you end up rocking the boat! Jump in and enjoy the process.