One needs to have a vision of a future one is aiming for. And some way to tell if progress has been made. The series of 7 short posts, Future Vision 2025, describes some of my mission milestones, not predictions. They are aspirational, and framed as observations or inferences one could be making by 10 years from now. What’s noticeably different in 2025 when one examines students, parents, teachers; learning, assessment, media & society, and the globe? How and just when the milestones are reached are not addressed. Some milestones are indicated by the emergence of something ‘new’ (at least at robust scale), but many are well-marked simply by the fading away of something familiar and comfortable.
In 2025, teaching as a profession is gaining respect.
It is gaining respect because the drumbeat from frustration with test scores failure has been stilled. The drumbeat has been stilled by clearly improved performance, both on domestic measures and in international comparisons. Key have been NAEP scores are improving markedly, as well as rising U.S. rankings in the international comparisons of PISA and TIMSS.
The drumbeat has also been stilled by an overall sense of progress and improvement: the educational playing field has been made more level through a smarter policy of enlightened self-interest. For example, government goals to provide quality early childhood education experiences, regardless of any parent’s economic ability to provide them, are by now as prevalent as health and nutritional programs were in 2015.
The beat has been stilled by data showing that the floor of the “achievement gap” is rising dramatically, at scale, across the U.S. Moreover, for the upper edge of the “gap”, all is not flat. Proficient or advanced students are also gaining through deep learning which plumbs far beyond just good scores. All students are growing their talents more than ever before.
Teachers encourage their student’s thirst for deeper learning via dramatically more engaging digital learning environments. The last ten years have, finally, empirically confirmed teachers’ belief that all students can learn challenging material. The experience of teaching practice itself, with the latest digital tools, organically fills gaps in teachers’ own understanding in real time. And the goals of school itself are more tangibly clear and relevant. In the area of mathematics, for example, teachers understand that the meta-purpose of math education is to provide children with flexible, powerful raw thinking machinery for future general learning and problem-solving.
Teachers as a group are more autonomous than ever, skillfully wielding powerful digital tools to productively engage every learner. Publisher integrated content and tools suites have very obviously matured far beyond what any individual teacher would ever dream of putting together themselves via Google. Teacher job satisfaction is markedly up – because teachers are achieving their own goals for more of their own students: positively influencing lives.
Teacher pre-service training and professional development programs of course assume that teachers will be provided with requisite, powerful digital tools. So this training gives them the expectations and distinctions to recognize which tools are appropriate and effective for which purposes. Freshly-minted teachers are more quickly effective in the classroom. Experienced, creative teachers have more opportunities than ever before to focus on their highest level of value-add, via customization, enrichment, and knowing their individual students, having trading in all their prior low level management of classroom, content, and data.
Teacher-practitioners have earned this newfound level of respect from their students, from parents, from administrators, from the community, and, importantly, feel it deeply within. No more, “I’m just a teacher.”
If you tried to take digital content and tools away from teachers, they would go on strike.