How should educators begin building the schools of the future?
- Writing for EdSurge, International Center for Leadership in Education Senior Fellow Eric Sheninger and Future Ready Schools Director of Innovation Thomas C. Murray investigate the state of schools throughout the country, detailing eight key lessons in how to help construct the schools of the future and stressing the importance of strong leadership and a school culture that is quick to adapt to changes.
- Sheninger and Murray found that schools, classrooms and the learning experience need to be redesigned to emphasize student agency and take advantage of technological advancements, with classrooms, for example, shifting from the “industrial era model” of rows of desks to a design more centered on the learner.
- The two also considered it essential that the communities surrounding schools collaborate with educators and students, and school staff must constantly engage with parents as well as local businesses and organizations to make schools vital to the surrounding neighborhood.
The transition of classrooms into learner-centered spaces is illustrative of a range of innovations taking place in schools throughout the country. K-12 classrooms and college campuses are drawing inspiration from Silicon Valley, favoring "communal spaces," while some schools are working to create workspaces conducive to incorporating digital technology for students to use to collaborate on projects. College campuses working to develop makerspaces and smart classrooms urge schools to start slow and small when creating new spaces, which can also be an approach that K-12 schools can take.
The suggestions of how to reinvent schools for tomorrow’s challenges by stressing collaboration and community engagement could make them akin to "community schools." Though most famous currently as a tool to assist struggling K-12 schools, community schools are intended to be centers of their community, which could dovetail with the vision Sheninger and Murray have for what schools will come to represent in communities in the future. As educators try to find ways to prepare their schools for the future without significant infrastructure investments, they can look to partnerships with outside organizations as a first step with lower upfront costs.