I was very lucky to be invited to participate in the first convening of Innovation for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation with a very prestigious group of people from around the country. One of the goals for this convening was to develop a new vision for Professional Learning Communities in the future. The questions that kept popping up was about the future of teaching and learning.
One article we read was Why Teacher Networks (Can) Work by Tricia Niesz from Phi Delta Kappan where she talks about Communities of practice in which learning and teaching are interwoven in social networks, and someday will lead to a movement to put thoughtful professional expertise back into schooling.
At one point we got in small groups and we asked to think in the future way beyond what we have today in schools. I thought of these questions:
there were no time constraints for students and teachers to attend school?
instruction was more like independent study that combined f2f and virtual schools?
everyone's expertise was valued including the students?
the school was more like a community hub open to parents, businesses, and students interested in learning together?
Most of the discussions or books on Professional Learning Communities mirror today’s schools and how they can improve what teachers are doing today. Much of the talk is in increasing student achievement. Improving teaching practice still focuses on increasing scores.
I would like to start a discussion on a different angle: improving learning practice. Teachers are supposed to be the expert in today’s classroom. In the future, they will take on a different role. More of a learning agent or facilitator. As part of this new PLC, they will be learning along with the students. Maybe some of the students will become one of the learning agents or docents.
The future is open. How are we to know what will happen? We can make predictions but this is their future. We also need to retain our good teachers and change higher ed. We are in the middle of a revolution and may not even know it.