Resolutions, Revolutions & Relevance
January 5, 2018
According to Merriam-Webster.com a resolution is something that is resolved or a firmness of resolve (e.g., “I resolve to exercise more in the New Year; that is my New Year’s Resolution!”). By the same source, a revolution is a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something; a change in paradigm. (e.g., “My approach toward exercise and health requires revolutionary strategies in order for me to succeed long term.”). Such a minor change — swapping the “s” for the “v” and vice versa — places both words into different, yet dependent aspects of relevance.
Typically at this time of year, people begin making goals (resolutions) about what they hope to accomplish in the New Year. At the beginning of the New Year, it’s common to imagine revolutionary-like changes in one’s life. Losing weight, spending time with family, paying off debt and following a budget, taking a class, or perhaps, just reading a good book. There is an inherent sense of grand possibility at the beginning of the New Year — “this year is going to be different!”
Education, teaching, and learning is — at its best — rife with that sense of grand possibility every single day as our students enter their classrooms. Still, New Years does cause me to take the time to look back on what was accomplished during the first half of the school year and visualize all the growth and development to come. I find myself in that same resolution-inspired mindset, imagining and even planning out revolutionary constructs for our students to ensure we are providing them with all the tools they need to continue to succeed.
Amidst reflecting on Forest Ridge School District 142, thinking through all the potential resolutions to make to move the school district forward, and the type of sometimes revolutionary thinking an strategies needed to make this happen, I repeatedly came back to relevance. While we can look back on the first half of this school year, having fulfilled a Blueprint Strategic Plan goal of implementing 1:1 technology and pairing that with a revolutionary shift in the way our teachers deliver instructional content, which required some paradigm shifts, paired with intensive professional development, the challenge moving forward is to continually ensure the relevance of our efforts, resolve, and change.
Great teachers, great curricular resources, current technologies, etc., are essential… but relevance on behalf of our students is of paramount importance. The goal of the educational system should be focused on what we are providing for our students, our children. We can resolve to be revolutionary in our approach to education, but unless we are delivering content and instruction that is relevant to the world our students/children will grow into in the future, we are not doing our job. Even what District 142 is providing for our students today will look different from what will need to be offered and taught 10 years from now. Relevance.
The world has changed dramatically since I was in school, and it would be safe to say that many of our parents could say the same. Therefore, it would be ineffective for a school system to educate students in the same manner as students were being educated in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Here we are in 2018, nearly 20% of the way through the 21st century and many of our practices are rooted in methodologies of the past. It’s time we took an honest look at what we’re doing and ask the questions: Why are we doing this? Is this relevant? In combination with sound, current research into best practices, we may begin to visualize a change in paradigm (revolution). In some cases we may find that our practice is relevant; in some cases we will find the opposite.
Therein lies the resolution of the district for the New Year. When we find practices that are irrelevant, we replace them with practices that will benefit our students. It sounds simple, until the change occurs. People like what they know, what they are used to; but this serves the past, the person, not the student… who will be entering a world that is fast-paced, ever-changing, filled with technology, and in desperate need of students, who are, well, relevant.
Happy New Year to the Forest Ridge School District 142 staff and the community who supports our wonderful public education. Together we continue to provide an education worth having!