The Teacher of 2030

I was reading this NCTM quote from 2000 the other day… and it made me think about my own current teaching practice at Trent University.

“Imagine a classroom, a school, or a school district where all students 
have access to high-quality, engaging mathematics instruction. There are ambitious expectations for all, with accommodation for those who 
need it. Knowledgeable teachers have adequate resources to support 
their work and are continually growing as professionals. The curriculum 
is mathematically rich, offering students opportunities to learn 
important mathematical concepts and procedures with understanding. 
Technology is an essential component of the environment. Students 
confidently engage in complex mathematical tasks chosen carefully by 
teachers. They draw on knowledge from a wide variety of mathematical 
topics, sometimes approaching the same problem from different 
mathematical perspectives or representing the mathematics in different 
ways until they find methods that enable them to make progress. 
Teachers help students make, refine, and explore conjectures on the 
basis of evidence and use a variety of reasoning and proof techniques 
to confirm or disprove those conjectures. Students are flexible and 
resourceful problem solvers. Alone or in groups and with access to 
technology, they work productively and reflectively, with the skilled 
guidance of their teachers. Orally and in writing, students communicate 
their ideas and results effectively. They value mathematics and engage 
actively in learning it.”

This quote still seems quite relevant in 2012… It is what I strive for every day in my teaching and what the teachers I collaborate with in elementary and secondary schools are also striving for. In my Bachelor of Education Mathematics classes, I am trying to support the aspiring teachers that I work with, to understand what this means and how they can be a part of shaping high quality mathematics programs here in Ontario and further afield.  But will this quote hold up for the classroom of 2030?

I have been thinking about the classroom of 2030 lately because there is a TVO themed series on The Agenda attempting to tackle this topic. And now, as it turns out, I am on a panel for this same series – taped at Trent on March 3rd and aired on March 4th. I am asking myself, what does the teacher of 2030 need to do and be? Not a simple answer, because learning is complex and dynamic. Simple answers to this question seem to lead to short-sighted solutions that lack longevity and substance.

I have also been asking teenagers in High School and young adults in University for their opinions (I hope to spread the net further over the next several weeks). In every case, two themes have been identified by these students: The first is the unquestionable infusion of technology for learning. It is absolutely expected, demanded, and described in some detail by these students. Immediate and wide-ranging information is literally at their fingertips as students use handheld devices, tablets and laptops to search and find everything from how hydrogen sulfide is produced to historical events in war-time Cambodia to video documentation and presentations of every shape and size. On YouTube there are currently over 800 million unique visitors every month. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched every month in 53 countries in 61 languages (see YouTube statistics). Wikipedia, a print information databank has over 29,477,075 pages and over 4 million articles. There’s a lot to weed through… Students today are telling me that the teacher of tomorrow must facilitate access to information that is clustered thematically based on the topics in focus, and that they can facilitate quality control in terms of the recommendations of sources for information, but most importantly, the teacher must be able to help students see the relevance and applications of this information to SOLVE PROBLEMS. The students I am talking to want to be knowledge creators and solution finders for the vast problems our earth and its populations face. Now THAT is humbling. And it tells me that we have our work cut out for us.

The second thing that students are telling me is that the classroom – a place to actually meet and work together and solution find together, is important. Although they are very keen to engage with online learning environments both in asynchronous and synchronous learning situations, they tell me that this is not enough. Students today are telling me that the physical classroom or gathering space is a necessary part of deep learning. How interesting!

If this is true, then teachers of 2030 must be able to facilitate students in becoming knowledge creators, problem finders and solvers, collaborators and communicators both in technology assisted learning environments AND in face-to-face learning environments. And this leads me to yet another question: What should we be doing in Education programs to help pre-service teachers prepare for their future teaching experiences? How do we equip these aspiring teachers to begin their careers? And what about those people who are not looking to work in a typical classroom?

I’m thinking about this… and maybe in watching The Agenda: Classroom of 2030, it will spark some more thinking for you as well!

Check out these two TVO segments that have already aired on the topic of

The Classroom of 2030:
Will kids like schools better in the future? How different will they have to become? Watch the Video
Digital Promise: Personalized education. Schools of tomorrow will leave no one behind. Watch the Video

 

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