Sunday, February 18, 2018

How are YOU preparing students for the future? {+ book giveaway}

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below and I may receive a small commission for purchases made through links in this post, but these are all products I highly recommend. 

In a recent post, I challenged the notion that relationships is the #1 important factor to being a good teacher in the classroom. The ideas from the post came from my being in the classroom for the past few weeks to assist in the transition from the former teacher to a new teacher. Since I have not been a classroom teacher for a few years (and even though I made a commitment when I became an administrator to never forget what it's like to be one...), it truly gave me a chance to become even more convicted about my beliefs. (If you missed the post, I hope you'll go back and read it.)

Being a part of the classroom experience + my own daughters who are college-aged + preparing for "testing season" at our school has me reflecting on the question, "Will our students be prepared for the future?"

David Geurin (@DavidGeurin), my friend and one of the 2017 NASSP Digital Principals of the Year, asks the question like this in his book, Future Driven
"Will your students thrive in an unpredictable world?"

In Alabama, there has been a push to have every graduate college and career ready. The issue is this... we measure this by standardized test scores, career credentialing, and/or military enlistment. And I bet we all have examples of students who didn't make a benchmark on a standardized test who are thriving at "life," and other examples of students who scored well by don't have the skills they need to be successful in their future. 

Work Rules by Lazlo Bock
I'm currently reading a book shared with me by our school's principal called Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock. Mr. Bock worked at Google for over 10 years, and his book sheds light on the culture of Google that makes it one of the best places to work. In David's book, Future Driven, he shares this message from Lazlo Bock:
  • "GPAs are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless... We found that they don't predict anything.
  • Up to 14% of Google employees don't even have a college degree.
  • For every job, thought, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it's not I.Q. It's learning ability."

Now, I'm not saying that we need to prepare every student to work at Google, but what they're doing is working. I would like to see us look for ways to prepare students so that they have what Mr. Bock calls "high learning abilities." 

The video below is little controversial for some. As you watch it, try to imagine ALL types of students who enter school and exit as graduates.

I don't want this post to be just a rant about using standardized test scores to measure the preparedness of our schools. This post is also about challenging ourselves to reflect on what we're doing in order to prepare our students for THEIR futures. A future that is changing quickly that will require adaptable learners. A future that is globally connected that will require empathetic and engaged learners. A future that requires our students to be hopeful, connected, courageous, and ready.

If we are to graduate students who are adaptable, schools must be adaptable as well. David talks about two different types of teachers in his book - "time-capsule teachers" and "time-machine teachers." Time-capsule teachers hang onto the past while time-machine teachers are future-driven thinkers and doers who are always considering a better way to do things. 

As a closing thought, here's a quote from David's book:
"When things are changing so quickly, it's tough to predict what's next. The key is to  be looking forward and paying attention. Then, chart your course based on your best guess, and the best guesses of others. Consider all of the possibilities of what change might bring and position yourself as well as you can.  One thing is for sure, you can't be static and do nothing and let change happen to you. You have to be part of driving change. Do something even if it's wrong."

Personal testimonial: David's book reads like a Chicken Soup for the Soul. It's full of stories, short chapters, and ideas. It's also very easy to read. You'll feel like David is sitting next to you!

I have the privilege of getting to give away a copy of David's book, Future Driven!

How to enter: 1) Leave a comment below AND 2) share this post on twitter with the hashtag #FutureDriven.
One book ($22 value) will be given away to winner selected via Contest opens on February 18, 2018 and closes on February 25, 2018. Entrants must be over eighteen years of age in the United States. Winner will be announced February 26, 2018 via twitter.


  1. Wholeheartedly agree. The issue is that we are pulled back to traditional standardized testing as the measuring stick. We need to invite parents and the community in to see the amazing things our Ss are capable of that can’t be assessed on a paper(computer) test.

  2. I teach high school English, and this post hit home for me. How is what students learn in my class preparing them for an unpredictable future. On Monday, this blog post (and the video) will my students' assignment for the day. They read the post, create questions and pose the questions to their peers. I will check back in to tell everyone how this goes!

  3. Love the idea of time travel teachers! We need a good mix of the two when it comes to culture - but we have to push forward when it comes to academics - especially when it comes to how we have students show what they know!

  4. I love time capsule vs.time machine teachers! The world is rapidly changing and we must change along with it, even if we don’t understand how. The first step is to be open to change!

  5. Remember the past, live in the present, prepare for the future. Teachers must operate from all three perspectives in order to serve their students, colleagues and community. Change is necessary and is not to be feared. Thank you!

  6. The time machine teacher is a great description. This also sounds a lot like the scientific method... make a guess and a plan and go for it. Then make changes along the way. We all just need that one person to say, “go for it”!!

  7. We tend to look behind us and not look forward with goals and needs. Students need forward thinking too. Goal setting is still a powerful tool. Change is necessary to adapt along the way of our learning journey.

  8. The theme of our TASSP president is 'THE FUTURE IS NOW!' This theme reminds us that preparing for the future happens NOW, and in that preparation, we have to act NOW. It's time to evaluate the tools we currently have IN THE BOX so we can toss out the ineffective ones and enrich/expand the effective tools. Waiting for the right time, the right day, the right resources, the right EVERYTHING, is waiting for the unknown. What is known is what we currently have, i.e., awesome principals, assistant principals, teachers and support staff who have the brilliance to create multiple opportunities for students to learn how to live, learn, love, and leave a legacy. Our schools prepare students for the future by enriching their experiences today. @TASSP1 #thefutureisnow

  9. I think you are on the right track. I do believe positive mindsets and positive relationships go together like hand and glove. Both are important to success.

  10. This! I agree! I worry about our students all the time because I feel that education as a whole is a time capsule designed for the past and we are being too slow to move to a design for the future.

  11. The power of a positive mindset and a kind heart results in amazing relationships!

  12. Our future, Our students: Empathetic and engaged learners. Hopeful, connected, courageous and ready.

  13. Such a great post! Test scores and overall grades have truly become the downfall of our students. Everything that they do is followed with the question "Will this be graded?". Students no longer want to do the work to learn, they want to do the work because they need a grade for it. I am constantly pushing my students to work to learn and not to be graded. I wish that more students and parents could realized that our schooling should be teaching students how to learn, the process of learning and how this will help them in their future. Grades mean NOTHING later in life. How you handle yourself, collaborate with others and think outside the box will be what defines you!