Five tips for educators looking to make better educational decisions
Education has the power to transform generations, not to mention make the world a better place. If it can, it should be teaching us to make strong, thoughtful and and dignified decisions for the benefit of our future.
Now, more than ever, we need to know when we are making sound decisions for all of our students. One important place where decisions can be made is when it comes to education. When we’re lacking in school-based decision making in key areas—like test scoring and curriculum development—students are less likely to be satisfied with their education experience and less likely to graduate, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
This is the issue behind MindShift’s Collaborative Learning Methodology, designed to guide educators and develop a more enlightened, happy and empowered education experience for every student. Education is one of the most complex fields in the world—our definition of learning, comprehension and academic growth can only be achievable if the decision-making process is consistent throughout each student’s education experience.
To create the collaborative learning methodologies with which we advocate, it’s critical to get new ideas and perspectives from a range of professionals, people with different backgrounds, education experiences and educational expertise. From there, educators can create their own model system based on what makes sense. Our goal is to help educators feel confident in their approach to making decisions and make their educational system as safe and secure as possible.
Here are five concrete examples of collaborative learning methodology principles that help educators make better educational decisions:
1. Build systems. Establish clear processes and constant communication within school systems to help reduce issues before they escalate into litigation. This means that everyone in the school system should speak with one voice regarding the goals of the district and of the school.
The collaboration methodologies are designed to encourage teams to find ways to improve systems and collaborate across schools, cities and state to ensure they are always creating safe learning environments that meet students’ needs.
2. Change mindsets. The United States has fallen behind other countries in the number of college graduates who actually graduate. As evidenced by the latest AARP study, 66% of people under age 50 are not enrolled in post-secondary programs at the current rate. Our current system of education doesn’t help encourage and enable kids to achieve their dreams; instead, our schools have lost their ability to motivate them to learn more.
Education is a strong instrument for achievement, whether it’s for scholarships, paying the bills or increasing productivity. By focusing on how our education system impacts students’ lives, we hope to inspire others in other areas of society to figure out ways to make their processes productive for more people than just the educators involved.
3. Be purposeful. Our educational system has problems, most of which can be linked to decisions being made at an individual level, without a consistent guidance system to help plan and teach. One of the reasons people miss out on opportunities because they aren’t given guidance is that their education is considered a “free gift.” This entitlement mindset has limited individual success through its effects on organization, planning and decision-making, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
The collaborative learning methodology allows educators to truly communicate education principles and choice design, without undue worry over miscommunication. In fact, collaboration and communication between multiple groups of educators is critical for effective decision-making.
4. Examine factors other than the current textbooks, curriculum and assessment. If your curriculum is designed to only teach about the textbook, curriculum and assessments, there’s a good chance your curriculum won’t change for at least another decade. By all means, be committed to the best work you can do to teach students all about everything the current materials (including curricula) currently cover. But, on some level, it’s important to consider how we can grow our curriculum, and that will require professionals and educators who are willing to think outside the box.
The cooperative learning methodology is a multi-pronged approach that will help us all learn and move education forward, but focusing on these five ideas will give us the biggest impact.
5. Evaluate the end result. Increasing the overall educational experience for students by making thoughtful and intentional decisions in the classroom can have the biggest impact on everyone in the process. At the end of the day, we hope that educators around the country will be as committed to making better educational decisions for all students as we are to helping them through the process.