Future Ready Schools

What if school didn’t look like this?


I know what you’re saying, my classroom doesn’t always look like that.  Maybe it never looks like that.

Chairs, technology, walls…”school”.

If you asked most people (teachers, students, non-education people) what they expect a classroom to include they would have a pretty common list:  teacher, students, desks/tables, board (smart or otherwise), books, computers. And, if you really pressed them to list absolutely everything…walls! 

This, however, is where the problem lies – these constructs of a classroom and/or school are old, they are antiquated, they date back beyond my grandparents.  What else that we rely on so heavily today is done/made the same way it was 100 years ago? 50 years ago? 20? Think about it, look around you, what is one relevant thing that is the same as it was 20 years ago?  Computer? Phone? Books? The clothes you’re wearing? Nope…everything has changed – except education!

Every industry is working to improve their product; working to make them more cost-effective, make them more user friendly, make them more green, improve functionality or performance.  Yet education, by and large, remains the same.

How are we, educators who are meant to be preparing our students for the future, supposed to do justice to a process that prepares kids for a future that includes so many unknowns?  

The answer is breaking away from the deep-seated rituals that have become school.  We must offer students the chance to truly engage with their learning, get their hands dirty, and live a life of active (not passive!) learning.

What is this was a “classroom”…everyday??

But how?  

Well, that is for each school to figure out on their own.  How are they going to commit to being a school for the future?  It will take courage, it will take forward thinking and it will take lots of time and effort.  The results, however, will easily outweigh everything. If we keep doing things the same way, we’re going to keep getting the same results.  If we’re preparing for a dynamic future, we need a dynamic present – flexible, engaging, adaptable and inspiring…

Take a look at these schools and see how they’ve already begun to challenge the construct of school and the classroom.  These are all forward thinking schools (listed here from closest to traditional to least traditional, according to me)…they’re all awesome and all have room to improve.  However, what they have in common is that they are all schools for the future!!

Perhaps your school isn’t ready or able to make such a leap forward right now, that is fine.  However, what are you doing to create a dynamic educational experience that prepares students for the future?

I was tempted to explain these programs in brief but was concerned that an oversimplification of these wonderful programs just wouldn’t be fair.  So, I’m STRONGLY encouraging you to have a look at these programs (or at least a couple) and evaluate them yourself.

Carpe Diem School in various locations

Western Academy of Beijing – Capstone Program in Beijing, China

Roosevelt Innovation Academy in Lima, Peru

Summit Public Schools San Francisco, California

Green School in Bali, Indonesia

High Tech High in various locations

Khan Lab School in Mountain View, California

NOMAD in San Francisco, California

Think Global School in…well…nowhere and everywhere at the same time (if you look at one of these, this is it!!)


Maintaining Balance in a Hectic Life

This past week I had to stay home sick, something I don’t do very often.  I know why I got sick.  It wasn’t some bad fish, it wasn’t because I went outside with wet hair (although the dunk tank surely didn’t help), it was because I hadn’t done a good enough job of taking care of myself and finding balance in my life.  I pushed my body too far and it finally gave-in to something I would’ve normally fought off.  

It’s easy to do, push ourselves too far.  We’re all dedicated professionals who work hard to help our students become successful.  We also like to have our own lives.  In my case, I normally spend the weekends resting and relaxing.  I do some reading, cooking, and try to get outside a few times to enjoy the weather and this beautiful country.  That recharges my batteries or, as Stephen Covey used to say, helps me “sharpen the saw”.  However, these last few weeks I didn’t do that very well (owing to traveling for AASSA and a full day at the We Are Ecuador event) and the result was me getting knocked back so far that I needed a day in the middle of the week to recover.

What do you do to help make sure that you lead a balanced and healthy life?  Getting plenty of exercise is certainly important but, as I realized after last week, exercising while your body is trying to fight off sickness might not be the best idea.  We have to know when to slow down and pull back on our regular routines.  Whether it’s skipping a Tuesday night Zumba class in favor of lounging on the couch to give your body some rest or postponing a weekend trip to climb Fuya Fuya, we have to recognize when our bodies are nearing a breaking point.

I want to keep this short and sweet this week.  Take some time for yourself to make sure you’re feeling recharged and fresh for our students…more importantly, for you!  Step back and ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success for this last downhill run, we’re almost to summer…take care of yourselves and it will be here before you know it 🙂