Given National Learning and Development month is coming to a close, it is important to remember that students are not the only ones who need to focus on continuous learning in and beyond the classroom.
“The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.” Alvin Toffler, former American writer and futurist
21st century skills for teachers demand mental agility in assessing a constant stream of new information in relation to decision-making and communication within their classrooms. That means staff development and teacher training efforts must allow for a certain amount of teaching and learning flexibility for teachers when using a systemic curriculum framework.
Designing systemic (across grade levels) curriculum, as I addressed in a previous post, requires four critical leadership characteristics: knowledge, judgment, integrity, and teamwork.
- Knowledge acquisition for prekindergarten to grade 12+ educators must be viewed as an active, ongoing process in order for teachers to be effective curriculum leaders.
- Judgment allows for flexibility for teacher leadership in different types of curriculum designs.
- Integrity builds trust and honesty through open communication.
- Teamwork is essential for incorporating various factors as they relate to instructional design, education standards, and curriculum development.
“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It's about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others' success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” Chris Hadfield, retired Canadian astronaut
So, how can those responsible for educational leadership keep teaching and learning teams focused?
One way is by using leadership-development maps. These maps, known as a Professional Development Map or Professional Learning Map, are a type of administrative map focused on what teachers, staff members, or administrators focus on what the learner will and be able to do, which I explain in detail in my book, An Educational Leaders’ Guide to Curriculum Mapping. An professional-learning administrative map’s elements are slightly different than those most often found in curriculum maps:
Another consideration for keeping teaching and learning teams focused on continuous learning is through organizational development that supports curriculum and instruction innovation. Given the constant influx of new curriculum design models, instructional technology advancements, and standards-referenced educational resources from OERs, curriculum evaluation and innovation is being affected in at least two ways:
- The manner in which teachers are obtaining educational resources is becoming more organic.
- The rate of change in teaching and learning practices is accelerating due to technology and social networking.
Students’ learning journeys extend across multiple grade levels and multiple teachers. Diligence on behalf of teachers involved in your students' learning experiences include:
- Ensuring the curriculum systemically flows with continuity, while aligning to education standards;
- Provides opportunities for differentiated instruction and integration of personalized learning;
- And embraces authentic tasks for authentic purposes and audiences.
This is best achieved through deliberate, intentional student-centered and teacher-centered professional development. Through the use of curriculum maps, administrative maps, and personalized professional-learning opportunities, a win-win-win takes place. Administrators are aware of what is required, teachers are afforded flexibility in meeting those requirements, and students benefit from learning and teaching environments that are engaging and purposefully preparing them to be successful personally and professionally.