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The Teaching Profession in 2030?

February 3, 2011

In the January 19th edition of Education Week, Barnett Berry wrote a very interesting opinion piece in the commentary section on the future of the teaching profession titled, “We Can Create the Profession Students Need.”

He made several interesting observations based on the investigation of a dozen educators of the last several years.  Here is some of what they have determined…

Our team determined that effective teachers now and in the future must know how to:

• Teach the Googled learner, who has grown up on virtual-reality games and can find out almost everything with a few taps of the finger;

• Work with a student body that’s increasingly diverse (by 2030, 40 percent of students or more will be second-language learners);

• Prepare kids to compete for jobs in a global marketplace where communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving are the “new basics”;

• Help students monitor their own learning using sophisticated tools to assess whether they meet high academic standards, and fine-tuning instruction when they don’t; and

• Connect teaching to the needs of communities as economic churn creates family and societal instability, pushing schools to integrate health and social services with academic learning.

They view teaching’s future through four emergent realities…

Emergent reality 1 foresees a transformed learning environment in which digital tools allow students to learn 24/7 and develop and use skills demanded by both the local and global economies. Many of the same tools allow teachers to learn from each other anywhere, at any time, while helping them take ownership of a school accountability system that can inform policymakers and the public with far more accurate information about who is learning and why.

Emergent reality 2 posits that expert teachers, who know how to reach the “iGeneration” student and serve as community organizers, will create seamless connections between learning in cyberspace and in brick-and-mortar schools. Even as online learning explodes, an unstable economy and growing socioeconomic divides will require that teacher-leaders on the ground build strong school-community partnerships that provide a wide range of integrated services to students and their families.

Emergent reality 3 envisions differentiated professional pathways so teachers with different skills and career trajectories will join in collaborative teams to maximize their respective strengths. Career lattices, not old-school hierarchical ladders, will allow many teachers to lead in a variety of ways, with the premium placed on expert generalists—those who commit to teaching and broker learning and support services for students and families, as well as colleagues.

Emergent reality 4 predicts the need to develop 600,000 “teacherpreneurs,” defined as those who are the most effective teachers and who continue to teach regularly, but also have the time, supports, and rewards to design new instructional programs, orchestrate community partnerships, and advance new policies and practices. Some teacherpreneurs will be the “highest-paid anybody” in a school district—and their roles will finally blur the lines of distinction between those who teach in schools and those who lead.

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