Confessions of a Digital Leader: The Myths and Truths of Future Readiness

When I interviewed for my current role, I had to create a presentation and present on what being Future Ready meant to Lufkin. It was a topic that I comfortably understood but yet and still…the most difficult task that I’ve ever encountered because even back then, I understood that being Future Ready wasn’t necessarily a finite state of being. It was and still is a culture of ideas, learning and growth created to support the global preparedness of our students and teachers.

The pledge itself is created on the foundation of the 7 tenets in the slideshow below.

To be clear, I do take issue with the idea of being “future ready” but only because of my own personal hangups with the phrase itself and its literal definition. At the same token, I view the 7 tenets as important topics of conversations for districts when considering and collaborating on the belief systems and support structures for innovative learning empowering student and teacher growth.

There should be a culture of digital learning, personalized professional learning, immediate access for students with a focus on creativity over consumption, quality content (open educational resources), support for families and a shared spirit of mentorship, sharing and reflection.

There should also be a focus on equity amongst all student populations, a shared vision of support for students of poverty, intentional inclusion of diverse community populations and an evaluative system that intentionally reflects on discipline practices, gifted inclusiveness and specialized programs meant to close opportunity gaps. There should also be community connectedness, not reliant on wifi or device access, but completely focused on service in the environments where our students live. These ideas are often ignored and it’s frustrating.

See…there’s a line right before the 7 tenets that people seem to miss…

“…by engaging in a wide range of activities such as

In a world of curriculum development, we’ve learned to view the phrase, “such as”, as a suggestion and not the “end all be all”. What this means is that districts shouldn’t only focus on the 7 tenets as a checklist but use those ideas to drive discussions. At the same token, isn’t it important to look at individual communities and collectively determine what matters beyond the tools and wifi…such as equity, equality, opportunity and community?

While I agree wholeheartedly in digital access and putting learning into the hands of kids, I also believe that we have to look beyond the surface of the tools themselves and on who our students will become as people…how they will be empowered to feel culturally connected, creatively limitless and globally aware.

I said all of this to say that perhaps the greatest myth about being “future ready” is that we’re ever in a place to truly be “Ready”. If we’re doing it right, we’re constantly working, reflecting and transforming into something that far exceeds the limitations of this phrase.

I get the White House’s initiative. Believe me…I do. I also get that it’s necessary because the fact of the matter is that without this discussion, most schools wouldn’t even be looking beyond the traditions that they’ve always followed.

The truth is that all of the chatter about being future ready is forcing schools who choose it, to at least consider that operating under the rule of “we’ve always done it this way” is no longer acceptable. This is undeniably a great thing.

Perhaps we can impress upon ourselves in our local and social communities to move beyond the buzz phrase of being “future ready leaders” in “future ready schools” to be more mindful of the deepest needs of the learners that we have now so that they can not only navigate but create pathways towards a more sustainable future.

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