The Next Generation of Educators


 Three intuitive educational leaders facilitating the popular live Twitter chat #satchat from ASCD’s Leader to Leader Conference

I finally realized something this weekend. I am not remotely part of the “next generation” of educators who are going to change the world and usher in a new renaissance of learning. Their vision is based on a creative approach to curriculum and instruction, embracing new technologies and a data driven (but not too data driven) approach to assessment. At 53 years of age, I still have plenty of ingenuity and resourcefulness left in me, but the 30-somethings I hung around with the last few days are truly impressive. 

As I type this, I am sitting in the Reagan National Airport reflecting a bit on the latest ASCD Leader to Leader Conference (#ascdL2L) that began Thursday and finished this afternoon. By far the most illuminating part of the three days was my interaction with the participants. 

If every teacher and administrator in America was in the same league as those I collaborated with at L2L, we would easily rank #1 on international measures such as the PISA  and the TIMSS and we would barely need the NAEP to measure our nation’s school effectiveness. These young educators have passion, they understand the power of new technologies, and they are brave enough to create adventures and see them through. They also have the confidence to admit mistakes and the drive to continue with their vision. 

What is different about their insight and talent than what we see in most schools in this country?

  • They understand that specific knowledge is not as important as what is accomplished with that knowledge. The conversations we had were about process and creation, not memorization and facts. They know intuitively that the days of the sage educator as the only purveyor of knowledge died with the advent of the Internet and Web 2.0. 
  • They are young enough to realize what it was like to be a new educator and they know what we need to retain and grow excellent teachers. They have passion and joy.
  • They are instinctively collaborative, whether they are shy or brash, introvert or extrovert. They would rather work together to solve a problem than design an elaborate plan alone on their laptop. They don’t have to be in the same room to collaborate either. They can use a Google Hangout, Voxer, or Skype to keep the flow of ideas going.
  • They are wicked smart, plain and simple. They have enough smarts to be surgeons, top litigators, or successful entrepreneurs. They picked education as their life’s work because they chose the thrill of changing the world for kids instead of working for financial security. 

Brad and bill

A selfie moment with creative educator (and co-founder of #satchat) Brad Currie (left).  

Yes, there were naive moments when the thirty somethings, even some with Ph.D.s, needed (and I hope heeded) the advice of “seasoned” veterans. But that only reminded me of the best teams (the Red Sox last year in fact), who win because of the amalgamation of the vets at the top of their game with the youthful players who bring a spark to every contest. 

I am optimistic that my generation can partner with this new batch of educators to radically improve education as we head into this new era of flipped classrooms, the Common Core, the information revolution, and the transformation of our world economies. My worry is that since it’s my generation that is still largely in charge of our nation’s schools, are we ready to accept the wisdom of those a generation younger? We may have the leadership common sense but we need to capture the fire of those who are nipping at our heels to grab a piece of influence. We have to let them in as leaders and partners. 

One comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *