Why do teachers have to keep learning? Why do they need to know more about the world of learning available on the Web? Why will our Professional Learning Communities (PLC) that focus on learning how to connect students to that Web in ways that make our content more meaningful work?
Will Richardson writes in his chapter in the new book 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn,
One thing is certain: although schools may continue to fundamentally look and act as they have for more than one hundred years, the way individuals learn has already been forever changed. Instead of learning from others who have the credentials to “teach” in this new networked world, we learn with others whom we seek (and who seek us) on our own and with whom we often share nothing more than a passion for knowing. In this global community, we are at once all teachers and learners—changing roles as required, contributing, collaborating, and maybe even working together to re-create the world, regardless of where we are at any given moment.
These learning transactions require a shifted understanding of traditional literacies and the skills they employ, as well as new literacies and practices that learning in networks and online social communities demands. For educators, acquiring these network literacies is a crucial first step in developing new pedagogies and, in turn, new classrooms and curricula that prepare students for the future.
It’s my plan and vision that at Randolph Central, we will be the educators who can lead learning by mastering the network literacies Will speaks of and by finding ways to connect the learning that happens within our walls to the learning that happens all over the world. In the next decade, learning opportunities will be available well beyond what we can even imagine today.
We have a simple choice. We can do nothing and live in denial that the world around us is changing as we become obsolete or we can re-imagine, re-invent, re-learn and continue to do what we all most want in our hearts: change the lives of children for the better. Fundamentally, that’s why we’re in it, right? To help, care for, love and teach our students. To make our little piece of the world, Randolph, better. To enrich lives. To equip our students for a successful future.
The future, heck the present, looks very different than ever before because of access to the thinking of others for every child. When I grew up, the only thinking that could influence my thinking was that of my family, my teachers, my friends and three television channels. The thinking that can influence our children today? Vast and Endless. We need to be plugged into all of it or our voices will just become smaller and smaller.
If we want to continue to influence our students, we have to understand their thinking and learning. We also have a responsibility to teach them how to be successful in a changing world, a world we can only understand if we’re learning in it too. I don’t know about you, but I want to be a part of that great BIG conversation and I want a strong voice in it. Most of all, I want our students to know how to develop their voices and how to succeed when they leave us.