Tag: Future Ready

Recommendations

Societal Barriers to Equity in Education 2019

2080 toddler retirementThis young man doesn’t talk yet, doesn’t walk yet, but he and his friends will be in classrooms across the United States in just a few short years. They will arrive familiar with how to use a smartphone and a tablet. They will likely look at desktop computers with interest at such a novel item. Will every classroom, every teacher, every lesson be prepared to engage him and his classmates with an education that uses the tools and technology of their generation? The tools that they are growing up with and that are already fully integrated into their personal lives?

Despite the fact, that the smartphone and similar technology are as commonplace, if not more so, than the crayon and pencil to today’s toddler and incoming kindergarten student, there continues to be significant debate about the integration of modern technology in the educational process. Nevertheless, the technological shift that is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is moving forward. Unsettling is the fact that education lags far behind private industry in its adaptation.

The full implementation of digital and cloud-based curriculum that is in alignment with the required shift in pedagogy to keep pace, not to mention a full grasp of the skills today’s student needs to be successful for a career that will take them through 2080, continues to elude much of the policy, legislation, and pedagogical practice designed to prepare students for life as a contributing national and global citizen.

It is with this in mind that discussions about the much-needed education revolution takes on increasing urgency. The required systemic shift lags too far behind what the workforce requires as evidenced by the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs Report. It is predicted that in as early as 2022 as part of the New Economy and New Society of the Fourth Industrial Revolution up to 54% of the workforce will require significant reskilling and upskilling in order to remain relevant. While automation will increasingly take over more mundane tasks, 38% of companies report that they expect to grow their workforce with new positions that correspond with the creativity and support that will be required to underpin new products and industry growth.

All the while a disparity continues to exist among gender and race as well as equitable access to educational opportunities, career entry and salary.

In 2016, before equity became a buzzword, a leader in the education community was preparing to facilitate a workshop that would explore tools and discussions around a district’s vision for modern instruments in education. The participants would be district and site leaders of a predominantly Hispanic community. In conducting a Google search for images of  “Mexican toddler using technology.” Here’s what popped:

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Now full disclosure, the author of this article was the leader of this workshop. As both an educator and the parent of a mixed race, Hispanic son, I was shocked! The educator in me in 2016 was stunned, the parent in me could hardly breathe.

The same search in 2019, yielded this result:

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As both an educator and the parent of a mixed race, Hispanic son, I was shocked again! 

A 2016 search for “white toddler using technology” yielded these images. Notice the distinct differences.

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“Okay,” I thought to myself, “be politically correct with your search term and see what happens with ‘Hispanic toddler using technology.”

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I’m thinking, “Better, but do my eyes deceive me or are most of these images still of white children?”

A 2019 search shows some improvement. However, notice the age of the children, the number of non-Hispanic children, the outdated television set and image without any device present.

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The next set of images of the same search bring real concern. Notice the activities, ages, race and captions that pop for “Hispanic toddler using technology.”

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My next thought in 2016 was, “Well, as long as I’ve started down this path…” black toddler using technology.”

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2019

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2016 “Asian toddler using technology”

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2019

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The 2019 search added gender.

Male toddler using technology.

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Two of fifteen images clearly depict girls and there is a clear bias in race.

Female toddler using technology.

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The first three images are of boys using technology. Seven of fourteen, 50%, of the images clearly include boys. Again, there is a clear bias towards race.

What began as quick Google search in 2016 turned out to have a far more profound impact on an already strong belief regarding the importance of the work educators do in breaking down stereotypes and providing equity in education. The images in the Google search speak loudly. Societal perceptions and expectations are clearly captured.

This “quick Google search” brings light to the call to action to support equity in both education and society as a whole. The cultural biases embedded in the everyday task of “googling” information continues to build on traditional stereotypes, reinforcing cultural biases that place clear limits not just on equitable opportunity but ensuring that society is empowering the intellect and skills that will allow for successful navigation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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Preparing Ourselves and Our Students for an Automated World

 

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend ISTE18 in Chicago where forward-thinking educators and vendors come together to learn, network, dream, and reflect. The experience was an occasion to be surrounded by the innovative, those who are iterating on current practices and tools and those who are creating the completely new. The enhancements to personalized and interactive learning through virtual and augmented reality are noteworthy. The tools to develop early learning skills such as sequencing through basic coding applications for K-2 students are inspiring. The shift that has already happened in private industry and the systemic disconnect with pedagogical practices was astonishing.

There continues to be a draw to the “shiny.” We like app smashing. We like tools that save time. Yet, we struggle to connect these to creating knowledge among adult and child learners that shift us from consumers to creators of content that is relevant to building contemporary skills, fluency, and meaningful learning applications that align with what our students need to be successful in the workforce. There is a continuing struggle to simultaneously develop these skill sets as well as those necessary to perform well on the standardized tests our society values as a measure of a student and school’s success.

With that in mind, presentations by Carl Hooker and Brianna Hodges and Eric Curts were noteworthy for their focus on enhancing pedagogical practices, empowering struggling learners, and inviting educators into planning processes to both enhance and empower the student learning experience.

We have pockets of excellence with educators like Hodges, Hooker, and Curts happening in schools and different classrooms happening in schools and districts across the country. However, we struggle to create the conditions in which these practices become systemically ingrained across all of learning including the professional learning of educators. As the world continues to become increasingly automated, the necessity of preparing students with the foundation that prepares them for an automated world for behind the scenes careers focused on design, experience, personalization, and technical knowledge continues to grow as a moral imperative to society.

Heading to San Francisco via O’Hare, a series of events struck me that drove home the urgency there is to prepare our students for jobs in a largely automated world.

I checked in to my flight on the United App the evening before from an Uber ordered through the app while heading to Hamilton. I paid for my luggage on the same app in another Uber on my way to the airport the next morning. I weighed and printed out the sticker for my luggage at an automated kiosk, scanned my boarding pass from the app as I went through security and boarded the plane. Along the way, there were a lot of travelers, but my experience was largely automated and self-driven as well as very different from school environments.

Even refilling a water bottle and flushing the toilet was automated.

I came home to find that I had received a paper check in the mail. I opened the Chase Bank app on my phone and within moments, the check was deposited. I noticed we were low on some non-perishable items in the cupboards, opened the Amazon app and reordered the items with a few taps at a lower cost than our local stores and home delivery.

The implications of these experiences for student learning demonstrate the urgency to hire personnel who are adaptable, who stay connected to the contemporary and connect their own learning to private industry as well as education. It is imperative that all schools, regardless of size or location are provided with the expertise and funding levels that allow students and communities to experience the shift to modernization before it surprises them or they aren’t prepared to navigate and compete in a world with tools that require creativity and critical thinking skills to fully access what is becoming ubiquitous in some communities while remaining novel or unknown in others.

Not only will our students need the creativity and critical thinking skills to access the automated world, but they will need the critical thinking skills to design, communicate, and work collaboratively in a world that will require this of them to be successful, contributing members to society.

Our challenge as leaders grows to invite the politicians who make crucial decisions regarding funding and assessment of education success criteria into a shared understanding of what is needed to prepare this and the next generation of student to be successful in careers that will take them into the 22nd Century.

 

Recommendations

Future Ready and the Small School District

It is inspiring to connect with the work being done to move the Office of Educational Technology’s Future Ready Initiative forward. It is energizing to be able to support a vision that has such a clear and profound impact of setting up our next generation of citizens for success.

 

School districts making the investment of time and resources in becoming familiar with the Future Ready Initiative  have embraced this bold movement that is providing educational institutions across the country a robust network of resources to embrace and leverage digital learning. The seven gears embedded in the Future Ready vision are well thought out and a district’s use of the Interactive Planning Dashboard yields meaningful insights into the structures of its organization that supports learning and encourages developing a mindset of preparing today’s student for a future with tools that we can only imagine, but that will exist in workforce that students sitting in today’s classrooms will be a part of.
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Going through the dashboard, its resources and implementing an action plan founded in the research based practices that are provided at the culmination of this process is a comprehensive effort. The tools and the information provided through the Future Ready process are robust. They support strong, action based initiatives to provide an educational vision focused on more personalized learning through a systematic approach that includes the smooth integration of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Use of Space and Time, a Robust Infrastructure, a focus on Data and Privacy, Community Partnerships, Personalized Learning, and Budget and Resources. Follow through on this effort takes a significant amount of organizational capacity and strong leadership. It is also an effort that today’s forward thinking schools are ready to embrace. 

Allocating the organizational resources to fully leverage the resources made available through the Future Ready Initiative are not readily available in all school districts across the country. According to Using Data to Improve Student Learning In School Districts, written by Victoria Bernhardt, about 60% of this country’s school districts have fewer than 1500 students. This puts a clear limit on a district’s available resources  to allocate the personnel needed to fully leverage the robust suite of resources available. In addition, this constraint of resources puts a strain on the smaller school district’s ability  to implement the complement of structures recommended in a systematic manner.

Yet, innovative leaders of small school districts  across the country are jumping in feet first to embrace the Future Ready mindset. Leadership teams are making adaptations to the process of the Future Ready Leadership Self Assessment and the resulting self assessment reports to create modified Future Ready Action Plans. Small school district teams are creating action plans that embrace the personnel, budget and infrastructure resources that are available to them. Non-traditional leadership teams are being created that allow for the amplification of the teacher voice as well as that of the classified employee in planning and preparing schools to deliver a robust 21st century education to students. Educators from smaller organizations strive to create the opportunities for students in small districts that will make them equally competitive with the students of the 6% of the nation’s school districts that educate more than half the students in our country. These efforts seek to equalize the playing field with students who are able to benefit from districts with greater organizational capacity, more robust infrastructures, access to more community partners and internal professional expertise, in addition to access to greater financial resources to support the implementation of Future Ready organizational structures.

Today’s successful educational leader must embrace the philosophy of and understand the power of the collaborative relationship. For today’s educator and Future Ready Superintendent this takes the form of a robust professional learning  network. This network includes and values personal face to face relationships while also relying heavily on social media. Superintendents and leadership teams should bring energy, innovation and an open mindset to the their positions. Leaders should be able to support action that moves the vision of preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers forward. They should be connected on social media and should be able to adeptly move the Future Ready conversation forward by connecting with other administrators from across the country. Professional connections and partnerships can be created quickly via Twitter, LinkedIn, Voxer and Facebook as well as through membership in professional organizations. 
The California School Board Association defines small school districts as those that serve 2500 students or less. These districts make up 55% of the districts in the State of California. One of those districts is mine, the San Antonio Union Elementary School District in Lockwood, CA. We are a Future Ready school district and I, as the the superintendent with a passion for education and a passion for supporting small schools encourage my colleagues of districts both large and small to take the Future Ready Pledge and dive into its supporting resources.

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Has Your District Taken the Future Ready Pledge?

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The United States Department of Education with the backing of the White House launched the Future Ready Initiative a year ago in which superintendents have been asked to commit their districts to a culture of digital learning. To support districts in making this commitment #FutureReady has put together a robust support system including an interactive planning dashboard, a Future Ready Schools Framework and a multitude of industry partnerships. The resources are designed with intentionality to provide a strong vision for the future of education in the United States and as well as an actionable plan with supporting tools.

The first year of the Initiative brought 120 superintendent’s from across the United States together in the East Room of the White House. Summits were held across the United States bringing leadership teams together to connect and plan for 21st Century instruction in their schools based on the seven gears of the Future Ready Framework.

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The benefits of taking the pledge are many. Take a look at the FAQ to find out what could be in it for your district. Has the the superintendent of your district taken the pledge? If so, be sure to thank them and acknowledge their forward looking leadership. If not, share this opportunity with them and ask them to join this network of education leaders taking action to redefine the way we think about education.