The classrooms of tomorrow need to look different from the way they look today. There are some fantastic tools available for educators to purchase but the true innovation lies in creating these environments with what you have. There are many suggestions for how to make this happen, but I will outline the six that I highlight.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzSSTwQ_jtV2NVlzTC1oM3VReDg/view

Flexibility

This element of a future ready classroom is one that ties into all other elements. Educators need to be ready for anything at anytime. The backbone of this element is to create an environment that is not set in stone. Here is how you can start.
  • Do not teach in silos
    • I have heard the excuse far to many times that teachers have too many standards to teach and cannot get all of them done or they complain that they reading block was shortened. There is a solution to this issue. Take a step back and think about your process. If you took a moment, and found common themes among your standards, you would find that you can sometimes teach one lesson, and hit three or four different standards. Use this skill next time you are developing a unit. Use this strategy to create more time in your day to hit more standards. 
  • Reflect our world 
    • We all know that diagnosis with ADHD is on the climb. According to Northwestern University, ADHD diagnosis has increased 66% since 2000. This fact is due to many factors but I believe that there is one that education can control. Our world is very fast, and our schools are not. Students today need a structured, yet flexibly environment that teaches to their needs based on the moment they are in. Change up the way that you deliver instruction in your room to be more reflective of the real world. Work in groups, assign personalized work, and tie in technology. Provide these tools to students, and you will fundamentally change their educational experience. 
  • Make it accessible 
    • Digitize your work and put it online. Create portals in your classrooms that lead students to just in time learning. Make learning menus that scaffold up skills and challenge when it is needed. Learning should not always take place in a chair at a desk. 
Differentiation 

This is a hard pill to swallow for many people. They say that its too hard to do, it takes too much time. These excused lead to frustration, and a fall back into previous routines.

Showcasing, and implementing a differentiated classroom is easier than you think you just need to keep one word in mind, choice. Providing choices to your students allows them to make decisions that you typically made for them. Here are three quick and easy suggestions to get started with.
  • Start by providing two options during guided reading time instead of just one. Build this up as the year goes on until you have 4-5 choices. 
  • Give students the option to complete something with paper pencil or with a digital tool. 
  • Allow them to choose they physical space to learn in. This cannot happen all the time but choose just one subject and allow them the freedom to move. 
Starting here and building outward will show you the benefits of creating a differentiated classroom.

Collaboration


Our world today is closer that it has ever been. Technology puts resources at our fingertips that no other generation has ever had before. The students of today are fantastic at using technology to communicate, and network with each other. They are constantly checking in on social networks, text messages, and possibly the occasional phone call. Schools need to reflect the environment that students leave to. Without taking advantage of this, we lose interest, engagement, and many possible learning opportunities. So what steps do you need to take to create this kind of classroom?
  • Use social networks 
    • You as the teacher should be connecting with other educators, and professionals on social networks. There is no reason why you cannot use the same avenues your students use to connect with their friends. Demonstrate for them the power in doing this and walk them through the proper ways to do this safely. 
  • Learn outside of the school day 
    • Yes, this is possible to do! Students do not walk into school and are instantly ready to learn. Take advantage of this fact and provide tasks to students that are not time sensitive (to an extent). Allow them the choice to complete their work when they want, or have the opportunity to.
    • This type of work also needs to look different than homework. Assigning page 345 even numbers is not a future ready assignment. Engage students with media, tie in collaboration, and foster innovation!
  • Start today 
    • The worst thing that any educator can do is to read innovative ideas and think they would be great fits into their classroom, and not do anything about it. Start with these steps and continue to expand. Take genius ideas that others are already using and push them into your classrooms. There is no “one size fits all” idea. Find the one that fits you, and run with it! 
Innovation

Todays students cannot leave our educational facilities without being able to think critically, and solve problems. Creating students who are vending machines will only destroy the economy that we have worked to build.


The US economy is showing two trends in our world.
  • The need for unskilled labor is decreasing 
    • This is due to many factors. Automation is one of the largest. If you have not watched Humans Need Not Apply, this would be a perfect opportunity to learn about how this is, and will continue to play a large role in our world. 
  • The need for Non-Routine thinkers is rising 
    • These jobs are specifying more and more as each year passes. Providing students opportunities in school will only help them to know what they want to do in their careers, and help them with the skills needed to be successful in that career. 
Student Focused

This goes without being said that your students need to be at the center of your classroom. Their interests, bias’s, and personalities need to be reflected in the work they are assigned and produce. The graphic below shows how engagement drops over the course of time that students are in school. These statistics are not solely due to classrooms not being student focused, however it may have an impact.

Student focused classrooms tie in many elements from above, but the key here is the role that a teacher plays. Teachers need to step off the stage and become a co-learner with their students. Students need to know that there will be times that even you, the teacher, does not know something. Show them how to interact as a team member, and model the correct channels of learning for them so they are able to replicate this on their own. Fostering the learning process in this way puts power in your students hands.

Data Driven

Data is the single, most important element of sound curriculum implementation. Knowing where students are at during the units you are teaching informed you of needed interventions, material that is mastered, and the opportune time for summative evaluation. These elements are not easy to do, but are certainly not impossible. Here are three easy kick off points.
  • Start Small 
    • Create a generic check in system for your students to use and make this part of your routine. Checking this and ramping it up as your year goes will only provide benefits to you. 
  • Make it digital 
    • There are far to many digital assessment tools to narrow you into one corner. Choose one that fits you skill set and go with it! Digital assessments are instant, engaging, and customizable. Leverage these tools to inform your instruction. 
  • Make it common 
    • Once you have your system in place, share it with your colleagues. Use the same assessments and look at the data together. Share the load when it comes to data analysis and curriculum implementation.