What’s your ideal vision of teaching for the future? What will our classroom learning look like years from now? No one knows for sure, but one thing is certain: now is the time to embrace that future wholeheartedly. That means using future-focused teaching principles like the ones we’ll discuss in this post.
All through our development of the shifts of practice that define modern teaching transformation, our focus was on the students. The 10 Shifts of Practice of Future-Focused-Focused learning are:
- Essential and Herding Questions
- Connection Through Context and Relevance
- Learning is Personalized
- Challenge of Higher-Order Tasks
- Information Fluency Research Component
- Process Oriented Using the Essential Fluencies
- Learning Intentions are Clear
- Learner-Creation Focus
- Assessment is Mindful
- Self and/or Peer Assessed
Ultimately our goal was to develop a learner-centred framework of action any teacher could adopt. By putting our learners first, we realized that professional practice would transform on its own and in the best ways possible. Since we have seen these shifts adopted more and more in global schools, this vision is becoming a joyful reality.
But is there a simple way to tell if you’re on the road to using future-focused teaching in your classrooms? Yes, there certainly is.
The 3 Cardinal Rules of Using Future-Focused Teaching Practices
Future-focused teaching and learning is a holistic approach where learners strive together to find and solve real-world problems that matter. It extends beyond the curriculum and encompasses the cultivation of capabilities essential to ensuring our learners’ success in and beyond school. If you’re doing these 3 things, you’re well on the way to being future-focused in your practice.
1. Give students problems that matter—to them.
No matter what, the problems we present in teaching must be relevant to the learners we’re giving them to. Otherwise, they offer no learning benefit. It makes no difference if the problems matter to us, because they aren’t intended for us to solve. When using future-focused teaching, the idea is to challenge learners in ways that urge them to consider how solutions can transform the world they live in right now.
The connection and relevance we want happens when we stimulate an emotional response in them through the problems we offer. For example, what inspires and excites them? What issues make them curious? Are they happy or outraged as the result of a particular provocation? These responses are all indicators of them finding relevance and personal connection to the problems we give them to solve.
2. Give them access to the tools they need.
When we talk about tools, we mean more than just simply letting them use technology. What’s more important is having access to processes like the Essential Fluencies, and particularly Solution Fluency. Such a versatile and powerful problem-solving process is one they can internalize for life in and out of school.
In addition to this, critical thinking is another crucial tool that’s back of the applications they use. Thinking critically is the pinnacle of the accumulation of knowledge and experience. Improving it is a life study, and one that’s definitely worth pursuing.
We can give our learners all the technology in the world, but we will have done them a disservice if we stop there. In using future-focused teaching we understand that technology is supplementary to the teacher themselves. In the end, it is the teacher that’s the most priceless piece of technology a classroom has. That’s because it is the teacher who imparts the real tools—like the processes above—that help students achieve true progress.
3. Have the courage to stand aside.
The love we have for students and how they learn is shown by our ability to let them grow their own wings. It’s difficult for teachers to stand aside and allow things to evolve and to let learners struggle, but it’s essential to their growth.
For instance, think of how we learned to walk as children. Our parents didn’t hook us up to technology that did the walking for us and then monitor us the whole time. Instead, they stood by and supported us while we learned on our own. Most importantly, they were there to help us back up when we fell so that we could give it another go. This is a perfect analogy for understanding how using future-focused teaching gives learners the freedom to learn in their own way.
Giving students space to struggle, fail, and grow is a heartbreaking and rewarding part of the teaching journey. In fact, witnessing that struggle is one of the hardest and most emotional parts of being a teacher. However, with the processes of critical thinking and the Fluencies to guide them, they will achieve wonders as independent learners.
Using Future-Focused Teaching Today
We developed the Wabisabi app to make using future-focused teaching both easy and enjoyable for students and teachers. Schools around the world use Wabisabi to provide real-time evidence of learning, make assessment transparent, reporting a breeze, and to keep parents and learners in the loop. Find out more about Wabisabi here—it’s a free tool for getting stared with truly transformational learning.