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!!)



Trying to Place the Roosevelt Innovation Academy in Context

The first thing I have to say is that if you haven’t read or listened to my colleagues reflections from Day 1, do it…now!  What an amazing group of educators, and the level of thinkers that have joined us on this adventure at Academia Cotopaxi is down right phenomenal!   

Today I went to the preconference led by the amazing team behind the Roosevelt Innovation Academy.  Again, wow, what an inspiring group of educators.  This group has reimagined what education can look like, they’ve inspired kids and the results are out of this world.  We were lucky enough to speak directly with a handful of students from the IA and it was rewarding to say the least.  We spent the morning learning about the program and sharing in some of the results…the CrepeZ cart was absolutely yum-tastic!!  

Charged with reflection for our collaborative learning blog I decided to try something different this week.  Visiting FDR is exciting for me for many reasons, one of which is that my good friend Michelle Juhasz works here as an Associate Principal.   A few years ago I sat with her at an EARCOS conference in Thailand, she took notes in a mind-mapping style.  I was intrigued but haven’t been motivated to try until now.  So, here is my mind map for today.  I actually did two, which I’ll explain further…

This is the second “mind-map” that I made.  The first was what we were “taught” about the IA.  This one comes from a discussion we had as a group of AC colleagues at the end of the day.  We talked about how this (the IA) could work in our context.  With people from every corner of AC involved in the conversation you can see it went in a lot of directions.  The IA is in the center, a rocket ship blasting off into the future.  My drawings are lame attempts at art but they help me visualize the ideas.

Have a look…what do you take away from my mind-map?