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You are an innovative educator, obviously, and you are on the search for new programs. You have heard about a great school and have decided to take a tour. Here is what you experience:

You arrive at a new school, eager, and ready to observe something new. You have heard many raving things about how this school functions, but are unsure of how this process works. As you walk into the building, you drift into the main office to check in. While you are in the office, you take a peek into the conference room. You see something odd. The room was filled with a handful of teachers, the principal, and several students. They were all sitting at the table, and all appeared as equals. You continued to observe as each of the members in the room contributed to a mind map they had clearly spent many hours creating. As you look at this mind map, you see that it is actually a curriculum map. This map has all learning subjects, standards, and benchmarks on it. The unique piece about this map, is that they are several lines drawn between standards and benchmarks. It is hard to define where subjects start and end, but it is clear that they were carefully connected. 

As you drift down the hallway, you find one student who is using the TV. He is mirroring his phone onto the TV and showing an array of checkbox's, links, and documents. As you watch him work, you notice that he is uploading new material that he finished, while drawing lines between content that was already existing in this space. As he is drawing lines, a pop up appears on his screen. It is a chat window. As you read what is being said, you notice that this is not a friend of his, it is his teacher. His teacher asked why he connected his science lesson, to his math lesson he just finished. He responded with a justification of how the benchmarks were similar, and guided his work toward the same style of work. His teacher still had questions so he asked if he could video conference with the student. They then opened a link at the bottom of the page and were instantly connected. After just a couple of minutes, the teacher congratulated the student on the fantastic work, and signed out of the video conference. As the call finishes, you ask the student where the teacher was. He says that the teacher was in another building within the school district. 

As your day moves along, you don't hear something that is familiar to you. There are no bells, which means there are no schedules. You have trouble identifying where the classrooms are and what is actually being taught in them. Teachers are hard to find as they are floating between rooms, groups, and teaching styles. They are providing each student what they need, at the exact time that they need it. Students are spread all throughout the building. They are working in small groups, individually, and in some cases, teaching other students. All of their work is being uploaded and archived in their portfolios while they also submit uploads to their teachers.

This outlook is based on some of the best components in schools I have seen. Here is a bulleted list of what they are:
  • Students actively participating in the creation, and distribution of curriculum
  • Competency based instruction - Teachers design units to be student driven. Teachers are supporters, not suppliers
  • Feedback is instant. No surprises in the learning path students take
  • Collaboration and learning between buildings
  • Scaffolded, carefully designed curriculum

There are very few schools in the world that integrate these elements. Taking on just one will launch you into the future. Taking on all of them, turns you into a legend! Use this page as a brainstorming guide. Come up with your own ideas that build off the current practices you have. Change your environment today!