Sunday, February 16, 2014

21st Century?

I spent some time last week with our staff talking about the age we are currently in with our students and how our students best respond to learning in school.  We consistently hear about the 21st Century student.  We hear about how long each day they are plugged in, they don't care about their learning, etc.  Last time I checked the 21st Century is pushing fourteen years old!  At the beginning of the century I was teaching at our middle school and had a landline installed in my classroom.  My cell phone was a bag phone!  Correct, we are in the 21st Century, but we are very much in a Digital Age. The Digital Age is learner focused.  Learning for most of the 21st Century hasn't reflected that model. As a school we have to be reflective of societal changes around us to help us prepare our students for the this Digital Age world.

Digital Learners (which all of our students are) want access to information quickly.  They want to be able to have some say in how they learn.  They want to explore, debate, and search.  Digital Learners want to see pictures, video, and have discussion about a topic before being fed a bunch of information.  This is an interesting walk we as a school.  All of our staff have been taught and trained the same way all of you as parents have.  Teachers control the release of information.  Everything is very deliberate and teacher centered. 

At Lincoln High School with the addition of an amazing infrastructure for technology (hardware and 1:1) we truly have all the tools we need to move forward quickly in this Digital Age.  There are many pockets throughout LHS where is it very obvious that we are in a Digital Age and we have our Digital Learners as the focus of our classrooms.  In areas where we haven’t quite reached that level our staff is working extremely hard to meet the needs of our students at their own pace.  I am proud of the fact that we have stuck to our message with staff.  “We will meet you where you are at.” is the promise we have made to all staff and they have responded in a positive manner.  Too many schools give staff tools and tell them all to do it the same way.  Those schools struggle as they make everyone uncomfortable.  In that model staff are either held back or pushed forward too quickly.  Implementation in that fashion doesn’t recognize our Digital Age or our Digital Learners which our staff are growing to understand and be.

I would like to thank Eric Sheninger for inspiring these thoughts.  His new book was an extremely thought provoking read for me as Digital Leader in a 1:1 high school.

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