The pace of change we live in is staggering. Twenty years ago the main source of information for students were teachers. Today, students can find information on anything, anytime, anywhere through Google, Twitter, and cell phones. The demands of the 21st century learner cause us to rethink how we educate our youth. Now, students need teachers to help them develop skills in adapting to change while validating, leveraging, and using the information they have limitless access to in efficient and creative ways to solve complex world problems. The skills of teachers are more crucial than ever.
Twenty years ago, we believed it was enough to send teachers to a workshop or buy them a book to share with students. New research proves the “old way” of professionally developing teachers was ineffective because it didn’t support teachers in the context of implementing new strategies with students. Today, we know teachers need to understand what skills students need for their future and prepare them for it. With this monumental responsibility, how should educators gain these skills?
According to the Center for Public Education’s website, when professional learning only focuses on reading or listening to someone talk about a new skill, just 10 percent can convey the skill to their practice; however, when teachers have ongoing coaching, 95 percent can transfer the new skill set into their classroom.
In order to see real changes in student achievement, effective professional learning programs must provide not only instruction, but also ongoing learning and coaching for every educator. Ask yourself, when it comes to health care, which physician would you entrust with your care? A doctor who graduated in 1950 but hasn’t learned anything new about medical treatments or medications since then, or the doctor that takes time to learn new approaches in medicine to treat pain, save money, and shorten recovery time?
Now ask yourself, which teacher would you entrust with your child? A teacher that has been teaching for many years, but hasn’t learned anything new about teaching a 21st century student, or an educator that is constantly reshaping the learning environment so students learn to be problem solvers, analytical thinkers, and strong communicators?
With the staggering pace of change, educators have great influence on our children. Let’s support ongoing learning for our teachers to create a better life for students in the 21st century and beyond!
Amy Moine is the director of professional learning with Area Education Agency 267, which serves over 62,000 students in school districts representing 18 counties in north central and eastern Iowa. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org