Three College of Education graduates share their thoughts on today’s most significant, non-budgetary challenge to education.
In order to achieve, sustain and advance success, every instructional leader – whether classroom teacher, administrator or staff – must first light the spark of belief in all stakeholders: the belief that higher levels of achievement are absolutely attainable. Concurrently, every great instructional leader must ensure that stakeholders can visualize the roadmap to greater success, have the resources to get there and celebrate over the course of the journey! With this formula, every challenge – great or small – can be overcome. (Editor’s note: Jon Andes retired June 30, 2012, after 16 years as superintendent of schools for Worcester County, Md.)
The greatest challenge in education is continuous improvement. We use all of the available data to identify the needs of students, but that is the easy part. Finding new ways to meet those needs and identifying best practice to do so is the challenge. The only way to succeed is to constantly remind yourself why you are there: the students and their futures. If you allow the outside influences of the daily grind to get to you, you will never meet the challenge.
An issue that continues to be apparent to educators is relevance in the subject matter we are teaching to our students. It is our job as educators to convey the importance of our subject matter. Our students will ask us, “Why do we need to know this?” We must answer this question (by showing) how the subject applies to their life now and for the future. We must make it a point to grab our students’ attention before we think about teaching the content. Our students have a right to know why they should be learning something, and we need to answer that for them.
To meet this challenge I research the answers to these relevance questions and how it applies to my students’ lives. I make it a point to advocate why I am teaching certain skills to them. The result of this effort has really enhanced the engagement and success of my students. On a daily basis, relevance is a challenge but an important challenge. Educators must make their content relevant to our future society.