What if school could be better for students- and adults?

Last week at ISTE, I had the opportunity to give a keynote, which was an amazing experience, and I was honored to share my thoughts on what’s possible when we focus on learners and learning.

As our world changes the role of the educator must evolve and human connections and guidance become even more important- not less. The ever changing and uncertain future requires that we create an educational system where learners are empowered to tap into their own curiosity about the world, build on their strengths and passions and unleash their genius as they move through school to find their place in the world.

Too often, though, there is a disconnect between what we say we value and what we do in schools. If we really value the creation of new ideas, we must model and support authentic learning in our schools. We can’t say we want creative thinkers and problem solvers while stifling those opportunities in school to ensure that we get through the curriculum or make sure students are prepared for a test.

When I ask people to describe powerful learning experiences that have impacted them, people often share a variety of experiences yet they often share the following 10 characteristics.

Ironically, authentic learning is often at odds with the expectations placed on many teachers to cover, assess, and document achievement based on the standards and accountability systems. In this environment, the necessity for evidence and a grade for the report card can override the conditions for actual learning and growth.

What if…

As I think about what I have experienced and how to move forward and make school better for students- and adults-here are a few of my what ifs that continue to push my thinking about what is possible:

  • What if I can create new and better experiences for learners I serve?
  • What if learners were inspired to explore and develop their passions and share their ideas with the world?
  • What if we empowered learners to ask better questions instead of proving the right answers?

I asked the educators in the audience to imagine what is possible in their own context and share their what ifs #whatifISTE18.

Here are some of my favorites:

More here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/1012316862565109760

Reading through the ideas shared by so many amazing educators left me feeling encouraged and hopeful. If we keep asking what if and work together to make it happen, we can create a new system that empowers learners to reach their full potential and I truly believe that when we change that, they will change the world.

What are your “What Ifs?” I’d love for you to share in the comments!

One Reply to “What if school could be better for students- and adults?”

  1. Katie, love what you wrote. Below are my what ifs!
    1. What if we asked students what they like?
    2. What if, instead of a grade, they got verbal or written feedback.
    3. What if mastery was more important than compliance?
    4. What if schools stressed character and values, instead of points and percentages?
    5. Finally, what if kids actually loved coming to class and school?

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