For most of our students, it is hard to imagine communicating without email or text message. The number of ways our students learn, share, and communicate has grown exponentially in the last few years. Each generation has sought to make the transfer of information faster and more efficient than the generation before them but the world today is changing at a faster and more immediate pace than at any time in our history. New technologies like Amazon’s Alexa, Merge Cubes, and Google’s Expeditions Pioneer Program will be the next generation’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The nature of voice technology allows for screen-free interactions and gives students much needed life-skills practice in the areas of forming questions and focused listening. Augmented and Virtual Reality enables students to learn by doing, which increases student engagement and helps with retention and enhances learning outcomes.
When the final bell rings for the year, and all the students rush out of school, teachers don’t run out with them. They do more during the summer to improve their craft than any other profession. While I hope many of our teachers get to enjoy time with their friends and families, I know many of them are sitting on interview panels, writing and rewriting curricula, attending conferences, digitizing resources, and much more.
As our graduates walk across the stage in a few weeks, it will not only mark the end of their high school career, it will also mark an end of the millennial generation in our schools. There are conflicting opinions about the actual age range, but most agree “millennials” are those born between 1980 and 2000, meaning the Class of 2018 is the last high school graduating class of this generation.
While many of us in the area were digging out from our 3rd Nor'easter in as many weeks, a host of Garnet Valley High School students were busy at home learning and doing what is normally reserved for the traditional face-to-face classroom. While this “blended learning” model isn’t new to education, it is new to Garnet Valley. As recently as four years ago our staff and students had little to no access to technology in their classrooms, but now our teachers are reimagining space and time and facilitating online and blended learning for students on snow days! The speed at which this evolution took place is truly amazing and it is just one more example of the great work being done by the faculty and staff in Garnet Valley.
Personalized learning is hard to get right, especially within a system that was created as a one-size-fits-all solution that moves students along based on age-appropriate cohorts. Our traditional system of education is designed to motivate students externally through grades, rather than internally through interest, passion, and relevance resulting in a large percentage of students becoming discouraged and disengaged.