Technology opens the door, but it’s the support and encouragement we find in authentic learning communities that connects us. Commitment is hard. Giving up outdated but comfortable ways of doing our work is hard. We all need encouragement to stay on course. Many of us are finding that support online.
As effective leaders do what they are called to do, they look back and support their followers. This support generates energy and gives the group strength to keep moving forward. I have seen this kind of leadership among those who mentor new teachers and assist them to find their voice and their gifts in the classroom. I have seen this in educators who take a reluctant learner and set their soul on fire with love of learning through their personal interest.
In his response to a recent Wall Street Journal article touting rote online learning as the wave of education’s future, Powerful Learning Practice co-founder Will Richardson calls to action every educator who believes that great teaching is not only relevant but essential in the Digital Age. Will’s comments (first published at his blog and then at Edutopia) match the spirit of our Voices from the Learning Revolution group blog, which shares the work and ideas of educators committed to creating a robust vision of teaching and learning in the 21st century. So we’re publishing them again in this space.
This Easy Reference Index highlights posts 66-92 and continues our engaging mix of voices: classroom teachers, school-based leaders, district visionaries and other educators who support the deep learning practices (for students and professional educators) advocated in Powerful Learning Practice communities. Every post here has some relationship to “the Shift” — the necessary transformation of the education enterprise represented by new technologies, the Internet and the capacity for educators and students to become “connected” learners.
In an interview with Voices from the Learning Revolution, national teacher leader Renee Moore reflects on the 21st century learning challenges in rural America — and in particular, in the Mississippi Delta where she teaches. “Technology access for the students in our public schools ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous,” she says, but “too many schools are using what computers and Internet access they do have to provided computer-assisted remediation drills for students in preparation for their state tests.” Moore identifies 5 actions that federal and state leaders could take to improve the chances for rural students to become connected learners. Among them: Reopen and restaff school and public libraries where so many residents have their only access to the Web. Monitor districts to assure equitable distribution of technology monies. And provide support for effective teacher networks – local and virtual – to promote professional learning.
Is your school not a friendly place for 21st century learning? Don’t lose hope. Stand by your beliefs and remember that it is all about your students. Igniting their passions and teaching them to become connected learners is a gift that will serve them well, no matter what the future brings. Keep finding ways to let students drive their own learning through inquiry and problem solving. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and you will be there to show them that the learning opportunities are limitless.