Prepare them for college and beyond…

I took the opportunity to attend #EdCampSV on Saturday February 21st. I find it so inspiring to meet up with a group of dedicated educators who are willing to devote their Saturday to sharing and learning together. Every educator there is passionate about developing opportunities for students to engage in developing the skills they will need to be successful…but successful as what? This may be different for each teacher depending on the grade level, subject area, and mission of their institution. Add requirements from Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, College Board, individual state standards, expectations for content tested on the SAT, ACT, Iowa testing (the list goes on and on) and teachers can easily become overwhelmed and hyper focused on preparing students to test well. In fact teachers are constantly being told that it is test scores that matter. In fact, teachers are evaluated by how their students do on standardized tests, but is this what companies are looking for in the workforce?

Here is a picture of what was posted in one of the classrooms I visited for an EdCampSV session in which we discussed alternative styles of educating students and designing schools. This is the world for which we are preparing our students.

2015-02-21 12.09.49

As a high school teacher, I feel that the main part of my job is not just to help my students get into college, but also to prepare my students to be successful IN college, which will lead them toward success beyond college. I LOVE my content area and would love to have all my students become impassioned experts in the intricate details of photosynthesis and cellular respiration, but I understand that skill building trumps memory of content. No matter what information we are learning, students are daily practicing the 4Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity). I try to incorporate aspects of design thinking to help them attack any task that an employer may send their way. Technology is infused into my class so that students become comfortable and adept at using various tools and know how to trouble shoot and problem solve when they are learning new tech tools or when tech fails.

Now it looks like colleges are starting to value experience and competency over merely looking at grades and specific course work.

The article You Can Now Get College Credit Without Ever Taking a Class in Time Magazine discusses the move of “hundreds of colleges and universities to develop so-called competency-based programs, which let older students get academic credit by demonstrating proficiency in such things as leadership and organization.” Currently, this seems like an option for students who want to complete a college degree after different amounts of time in the workforce. How long will it be before high school students will be required to pass a skills based proficiency test during the application process or to place them in a specialized program?

This is the world for which educators are preparing their students. One in which experience and competency in skills like dealing with multiple tasks and working in groups could earn you college credits and save you major time and money when earning a degree. 21st century teachers must retool our courses to provide learning opportunities that embrace the skills needed to succeed in a workforce that we have never experienced and for jobs that don’t even exist yet. A tall order, but every time I attend an EdCamp on a Saturday morning, I am inspired and I know that there are so many incredible educators who are ready for the task! It is an amazing time to be in education.

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