Teachers as collaborative mentors
During my professional career, I’ve watched employers shift their focus to place a higher value on workers who can think critically and learn in-the-moment to execute a variety of tasks, rather than those who perform specialized skills. For students to be successful now and in the future, we must empower them to direct their own learning, think creatively and critically, and use technology to solve problems. To facilitate students down this path, educators must be empowered to serve as collaborative mentors, providing students with the definition of what they must learn, but giving them flexibility in how they learn.
In the ideal classroom of the future, students will have the opportunity to complete project-based work, while learning anywhere and anytime with a variety of resources. They will engage in an AR/VR experience, leverage a tactile model or conduct hands-on lab exercises that reflect real-world experiences. Rather than memorizing facts and methods, students will master the variety of ways they can use technology to accomplish a task or search for answers.
We must allow students to be responsible for driving their own success, with educators providing them with tools and techniques that support personalized learning and help develop students’ passions. This shift in teacher-student relationship is critical, as it mirrors the relationships students will have with their future employers.
To ensure that educators are truly given the power to enable students to be successful in the workforce of the future, we must also rethink the way our students and teachers are assessed. One-size-fits-all examinations focus too much on students giving the “right” answer, and too little on how they get to that answer. Instead, we need performance-based assessment measures that provide feedback during the learning process in order to meet students where they are and provide support for individual mastery.
How to prepare students for the unknowable
Today we have the ability to assess students in a variety of ways. For example, we can use portfolios that allow students to show growth over time and encourage reflection with teachers, parents, and peers. In the future, digital applications may use AI to recognize how each student learns best and combine that with choice of content to support the learning progression and demonstrate mastery of essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
We must provide students with an environment where they’re encouraged to become proficient in learning new things, in new ways. We must encourage them to “fail forward” by helping them to learn through iteration, tinkering, and exploration. More value should be placed on the process, not just outcomes, because we know this is how students learn best.
Masters of their success
We don’t know what the job titles of 2030 will entail, and we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the opportunities that will spring from the human-machine partnership. By helping students see issues from multiple vantage points and to think critically about how to reach a solution, we can help them become masters of their own success. That way, whatever the future brings, they’ll be ready to meet the challenges rationally, systematically, and with full mastery of the incredible technology and tools at their disposal.