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3 Big Mindset Shifts for Education: What’s Next in Learning

Angela Maiers

Angela Maiers (@AngelaMaiers) wants us all to know that we matter.

The author, speaker, and education thought leader is leading an entire movement—Choose 2 Matter—intended to do just that. It’s a message Maiers has been honing since her early days as an educator.

Amid today’s perpetually shifting technological and political landscapes, Maiers says schools need to do all they can to reassert their worth and significance—to students, to teachers, to communities. That, or risk becoming obsolete.

I recently asked Maiers to outline the challenges she sees for education in the near future. At the time of our chat, she was attending the 2017 IBM Amplify conference, which contemplates technology’s role in transforming customer experiences.

While education wasn’t a key focus of the conference, as an educator and someone who writes about schools for a living, Maiers says there was lots to be gleaned for school leaders, especially in this age of choice and competition.

In this installment of “What’s Next for Education,” three mindset shifts Maiers says are vital to school success.

So, what’s next?

1. Technology doesn’t change the world, people do, especially teachers

The web is changing, Maiers says. What started out as a system for digitizing and sharing information is now a place to create and cultivate new ideas and interactions.

The roles of educators have changed as well.

Schools are no longer places to learn scarce knowledge—that information is available at every student’s fingertips. The value of schools, and particularly teachers, is to support students in their journey to discover how the world works and what their role is in it, Maiers says.

“Teachers are experience designers not curriculum deliverers,” Maiers says.

Don’t miss the other installments of our “What’s Next for Education” series.

While schools mostly focus on “compliance, conformity, and content,” Maiers says that focus needs to shift to personalization and customization. Technology can help, but it takes a special connection between educators and students to make it work.

While technology might make it easier to teach a lesson, for example, it will never replace the important work teachers do in helping students feel valued and understood. That’s why schools need to focus less on the latest gadget, and more on how a teacher can affirm a student’s worth.

2. Students are customers, and we need to track their journeys

Business and technology experts have long-valued the ‘customer journey’ as a way to track customer satisfaction and improve products and services.

Maiers says it’s time schools measure and understand the experiences of their students and their communities:

“If we are not measuring the customer experience, the customer journey, the customer insight, the customer wishes and dreams and fears, then nothing else that we measure matters.”

If we want to personalize and customize our students’ experiences, we have to make sure that they, and their families, are being heard and that their concerns are reflected in the choices we make, Maiers says.

3. Leaders need to say ‘no’ to everything, except what matters

It’s not uncommon for school leaders to feel like they’re being pulled in multiple directions. Every community member has a different idea about what their district’s priorities should be.

Good leaders know how to focus on what matters.

Maiers says school leaders have to walk the talk and prove to parents and families that what they say matters:

“I’m worried about schools. There’s never been a more relevant time in history to talk about mattering. In every survey, at every site, in every experience, that’s all we hear: Teachers don’t feel like they matter, kids don’t feel like they matter.”

How can school leaders make their staff and their students a priority, according to Maiers? By actively listening, acknowledging their opinions, and reaffirming their value to the district.

In today’s school choice environment, this lesson is perhaps more important than ever.

Do you agree with these trends? Are there others that you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comments. Or, share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #WhatsNextTrustED.