Lifelong Minnesota educators Dr. Scott Hannon and Dr. Lisa Snyder have witnessed the transformation of education over the last 30 years and recently met to discuss public education’s role in best preparing students for their future endeavors.
“With the rapidity of changing technology and our expanding global economy, teachers must utilize innovative ideas to teach not only the core standards, but the skills and personal attributes required for students to thrive in today’s multi-faceted careers,” commented Snyder.
Gone are the days of one-directional teacher lecturing and student notetaking, followed by assessments that merely require memorization which is quickly forgotten. A class period in Lakeville, MN, where Snyder serves as district administrator, may begin with whole group instruction, followed by an activity with students as the researchers, collaborators, and problem-solvers. These skills may require them to demonstrate leadership, persistence, and initiative. “A well-rounded knowledgebase in the core is still vital, but in this future-ready model, students are exposed to innovative lessons where they apply that knowledge to relevant situations.”
The 21st century classroom where this creative learning takes place has assumed a new appearance as well. “There may be an area for whole group instruction; however, there are also spaces provided for group collaboration, individual research, project-based assignments, and an area for presenting findings or projects,” stated Hannon, who is the former district administrator of Winona Schools. This requires districts on limited budgets to think creatively and honestly assess how they are utilizing space. “If you cannot build or remodel existing spaces, even adaptable, moveable furniture can have a great impact.”
Both agree that these methods of instruction and a shift from an emphasis on test scores will require an adjustment in mindset among parents, community members, and policymakers. “When educators build on the foundation of core knowledge and personalize learning for each student, he or she is better prepared to succeed in today’s digitally and globally-connected world.”
Dr. Lisa Snyder was named 2017 Administrator of Excellence by MASA; Dr. Hannon serves as an Education Consultant for Unesco’s Minnesota-based team.