Written by William Tolley for Education Week.
As teachers, we seek to nurture creators, inventors, and discoverers—the kind of men and women who will build and sustain our shared future. We try to synthesize effective traditional learning models with contemporary learning design. And we recognize the wisdom of Chris Lehman: “Technology in education must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.”
But the kind of contemporary learning environments we aspire to create are, well, different. They’re different in space (design), practice (management), and time (workflow). They’re different—often dramatically so—from our own past educational experiences as well as those of parents, school board members, administrators, and others. Often, the changes we foresee are not supported by current policies.
What does this mean for our work? Teachers committed to creating 21st-century learning environments must rely on the same growth mindsets we seek to cultivate in our students. We must be committed to inventive interpretation and growth in practice as we push on in the face of outdated notions of what “teaching” looks and sounds like.
And so we hack our way through the frontiers of modern learning, convinced that the rewards outweigh the risks. We work around the obstacles and use what tools we are able to secure—including our mindsets. I’d like to share some of the strategies that have helped me transform “management” in my classroom.