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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A new year means it’s time to reset. From our personal habits to professional goals, this is the time of the year that we are full of anticipation of what is to come over these next 12 months. While we are only midway through the current school year, a new calendar year brings a refresh for those of us who like to anticipate trends in the coming months that relate to the world of teaching and learning. Let’s take a few minutes to review some of the trends in the education field that we can expect to see and hear about as we launch 2019.

Personalized, student-centered learning

While it’s not a new concept, it continues to gain traction. We can expect an increased focus as we move into 2019. Truly personalized learning involves collaboration between teacher and student to determine specific needs, goals, and plans as related to student learning. Teachers are becoming savvier using methods of personalizing student learning across all grade levels.

A few easy examples of how learning can be personalized include:

  1. Involve students in personal vision and goal-setting and self-reflection and assessment.
  2. Offer flexible seating in the classroom.
  3. Expand on options for project presentation beyond traditional papers and power points. Let them create movies, cartoons or poetry as a way to demonstrate their learning.  

Virtual Reality

While the field of education may not adopt new technologies as fast as other industries, we are beginning to see an interest in adopting forms of virtual reality (VR) in the classroom. Products like Google Expeditions allow students to virtually explore subjects such as history and science or arts and humanities. Students are engaged in subject matter by having an opportunity to “visit” the Great Barrier Reef or go on an expedition with Alexander Hamilton as he establishes the US economy. VR is a fantastic way to engage in learning through technology in a way that is meaningful and exciting. Another great aspect is that it can be adapted to students across all grade levels.

School-Parent-Community Engagement

We know that it takes a village to raise each a whole child. That’s why many schools are prioritizing community engagement as a way to ensure that our students and school communities succeed inside and outside the walls of our schools. Research clearly shows us that strong school-family-community engagement leads to increased educational expectations and students who are more motivated.* At the end of the day, the goal of every educator is to support student learning – both academic and social-emotional – in order to succeed in life. Partnerships between school, parents and the community help us achieve this goal, and many education systems’ overall visions prioritize these relationships. Educators in schools and on the boards can work toward stronger relationships with students, parents, and communities. Taking simple baby steps such as asking caregivers to visit the classroom for a poetry reading or requesting students and caregivers to join district-wide vision planning session can make an incredible difference in relationship building and overall school community success.

Focus on Teacher Retention and Job Satisfaction

The year 2018 brought many teachers out of the classroom and onto the picket lines to stand up for things like improved benefits, more reasonable pay, and smaller class sizes. Most recently, we see the nation’s second largest district, LA Unified, striking for reasons such as reduced classroom sizes and more education professionals, (e.g. nurses and counselors). Sure, there is also a request for a pay increase, which is not surprising as we consider the gap between how we pay our educators and how we pay many other professionals in this country. The bottom line in LA is that this group of education professionals is standing up for what is right for their students. They can’t commit enough time to personalize the learning of each child when they have over 40 students in a classroom. Something has to change, and we don’t anticipate the teachers in LA will be the last to stand up for their beliefs in 2019. NPR’s David Greene interviews Joseph Zeccola, 2018 Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year, about the issues behind the strike. Mr. Zeccola shares an important idea that we must keep in mind as we support our educators: “…you don’t get into this profession to get rich. You get into it because you care desperately about the kids that you’re in the room with.”

We believe that 2019 will focus, more than ever, on supporting our teachers, not just to try to avoid strikes, but to keep these most important resources for our children supported, valued and able to remain in the jobs that they love.

Let’s get excited about the many trends coming our way as we embark on an exciting new year here’s to progressive thinking and to support our educators in education in 2019!

 

References

* Barton, Paul E. 2003. Parsing the Achievement Gap: Baselines for Tracking Progress. Princeton, NJ: Policy Information Report, Educational Testing Service.

 

 

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