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Ready for Anything

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Effective teaching and learning must reflect what's happening technologically, socially, economically, and globally. In Ready for Anything, author Suzette Lovely introduces four touchstones that will invigorate students' curiosity and aspirations and develop their 21st century skills for college and career readiness. Each touchstone provides K-12 educators with specific actions, methods, and innovative teaching strategies they can begin using in classrooms today.

Use this book to guide your classroom instruction in preparing students for their future:

  • Become familiar with the changes that the 21st century has brought into the lives of students.
  • Expand your horizons as an instructor, and improve your craft in order to best prepare students for the future, using strength-based learning and personalized learning experiences.
  • Consider the importance of closing the opportunity gap in education and training students to become future-ready graduates.
  • Study student engagement and learning, and understand why learning, not teaching, should be the focal point of change in the classroom.
  • Explore four touchstones that will act as guides toward innovative classroom practices and future-focused pedagogy.

Contents:
Acknowledgments
Table of Contents
About the Author
Introduction
Chapter 1: Rethinking Education
Chapter 2: Implementing Innovative Practices
Chapter 3: Building a Strengths-Based Culture
Chapter 4: Designing Personalized Experiences
Chapter 5: Collaborating With the Outside
Epilogue
Appendix
References and Resources
Index

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Chapter 1: Rethinking Education

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C H AP T E R 1

Rethinking Education

In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.

—Eric Hoffer, American philosopher

A common narrative surrounding K–12 education goes something like this: when children reach age five, they’re ready to enter the system. Elementary teachers teach them to read, write, compute, and listen to prepare them for the next level.

In middle school, there’s no more recess or crying over spilled milk. The test score slump that often occurs between fifth and sixth grades leaves little time for slacking off. An ever-changing bell schedule integrates core subjects, electives, and advisement. Signs around campus implore students to work hard, behave, and remember that high school is just around the corner. Despite racing emotions, teachers do their best to keep these preteens focused.

Once in high school, it’s full steam ahead. Students hear from a young age that studying hard and getting good grades are their golden tickets to a bright future. If students are put in the right classes with the right teachers, they’ll do well. If they graduate with honors, they’ll be accepted to the best universities. Once students finish college, a well-paying job awaits. Not only does society prosper, students’ quality of life soars too.

 

Chapter 2: Implementing Innovative Practices

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CHAPTER 2

Implementing Innovative Practices

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?

—Henry David Thoreau

When I began teaching in the early 1980s, I sifted through the curriculum on my own and taught what seemed important. There were no grade-level standards, no scope and sequence charts, no state tests that counted for anything, and no common planning time. Curriculum was bundled around frameworks that identified a discrete set of skills for each subject area. Teaching was generally an individual endeavor. For the most part, education remained outside the public eye.

To make things more interesting, I made up my own worksheets and crafted special projects to keep students engaged. Students wrote study guides, solved problems of the day, and gave oral reports. I taught subjects in fifty-minute increments sandwiched between morning recess, lunch, and afternoon break. My reading, mathematics, and gifted groups were organized by ability. Textbooks served as the core resource for instruction and classroom activities.

 

Chapter 3: Building a Strengths-Based Culture

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CHAPTER 3

Building a Strengths-Based Culture

When students not only know their strengths but more importantly apply them, the effect on their lives is transformational.

—CliftonStrengths for Students, Gallup

Let’s assume Sophie, a junior, is trying to decide what she wants to do when she leaves high school. At this point, she either wants to be a teacher or a veterinarian.

You consider Sophie to be a vociferous learner and observe her endless patience as she mentors others in class. You’re also aware that Sophie loves animals and volunteers on weekends at the local animal shelter. Despite Sophie’s inner drive, she’s quite introverted. You worry that Sophie may lack the confidence and personality she’ll need as a teacher. At the same time, you don’t want to discourage her from pursuing her true passion.

Sophie’s classmate Michael enjoys working with his hands. He can fix anything and has earned the nickname “MacGyver” from his peers. However, Michael’s work habits leave much to be desired. With a C in physics, Michael’s hopes of pursuing a

 

Chapter 4: Designing Personalized Experiences

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CHAPTER 4

Designing Personalized Experiences

[Personalized learning] is not about baiting a hook. It’s about helping students find their spark and make their own fire.

—Larry Ferlazzo, Award-Winning Teacher, Burbank, California

With the growing demand for customization in consumer products, the simple fact is that off-the-shelf items are no longer our sole option. Mass adoption of services like Netflix, Amazon, and Pandora has created a new mindset for consumers: “Let me watch it, buy it, and listen to it my way.” A fundamental marketing strategy for companies seeking growth is letting customers know they’re paying attention.

When we compare trends in retail marketing to trends in education, we see similar demands. Growing consumer expectations have prompted retailers to find other ways to personalize shopping experiences. Reward programs, mobile apps that help shoppers access coupons and streamline pharmacy orders, curbside pick-up, and free shipping are just a few ways retailers are meeting customer demands. Convenience, low cost, and customization are the backbone of success in a changing consumer market. In schools, educators are involved in parallel pursuits. Teachers and administrators are asking crucial questions and exploring options to capture the power of personalization in the classroom.

 

Chapter 5: Collaborating With the Outside

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C H AP T E R 5

Collaborating With the Outside

The heroic efforts of countless teachers, administrators, and nonprofits, together with billions of dollars in charitable contributions, may have led to important improvements in individual schools and classrooms, yet systemwide progress has seemed virtually unobtainable.

—John Kania and Mark Kramer

In any given week, a school might receive a call to action to expand its breakfast program, develop an early literacy curriculum, or open an after-school tutoring center. Yet, working with external stakeholders to bridge competing demands doesn’t come naturally to many educators. The scale and complexity of our system are vast.

We worry that outsiders won’t or can’t fully understand it.

Good schools add immense value to a community—and the public has every right to expect its schools to prepare students for the changing economic times. In

Humanizing the Education Machine, author Rex Miller and his coauthors (2017) posit that, in a previous era, public education served America well. But with the passing of that era, shifts are necessary to confront outdated education models “just as refrigeration once confronted icehouses and sailing vessels challenged propulsion by oars” (Miller et al., 2017, p. 166). With growing emphasis on post-graduation readiness, access to high-quality learning environments has become an important social justice issue of our time.

 

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