A decade is a long time. But I continue to remind our employees it will pass in the blink of an eye. I just recently finished my first round of one on one meetings with our new teachers, and one of the points they all make is that they can't really believe it is Thanksgiving already. No doubt. They will hardly believe their calendar when spring break arrives in March. Or when day 180 arrives at the end of May. Even when we consider those dark, cold days in January and February; well those do seem like long days! Yet we take solace in the gradual lengthening of the day and the warming of the weather. Even though it just got cold, spring seems like a long way off. But it isn't.
I've been having these new teacher meetings for several years now, once in the fall and again in the spring. It's a treat for me to have these informal chats with them. To see how they are adjusting to the life of a teacher and seeing their confidence grow.
Once they enter that second year the 'newness' has worn off. The nerves have largely faded into the background and they can anticipate the changing of the seasons and how the students will respond. They understand the rhythm of the school year and have developed lesson plans and units that fit their style. Classroom management is probably still something they are working on, but mostly they have the large concepts mastered. Ten years later, they can't believe they are no longer that 22 year old kid that had just graduated from college.
One of my great joys is watching these young teachers develop into true professionals. Not only that, but I have had the privilege of watching them begin families and now get to see them bring their own children to school! I recently asked those teachers, ones who have been in the district between 6-10 years to tell me how education has changed during their time at Hudson. The answers surprised me!
I suppose my surprise came from the fact that the physical changes that have occurred (and are occurring around the campus) were the most obvious, but least mentioned. The fact is, there was not one comment about these changes. Instead, the most common observation was related to the ubiquitous use of technology in the classroom. This was followed closely by how teaching and learning shifted during covid, and the fact that some of those practices never went away. My observation is the link between the these two points is self-evident. Video conferencing became the norm, and we continue to utilize this type of technology today. The ability to collaborate and share ideas and work product via Google platforms went into overdrive.
Even though our construction projects weren't top of mind when thinking about how education has changed here in Hudson, I think they are right to highlight technological advances. One teacher wrote:
I think the dependency on technology is profound. The way content is shared with students is now largely reliant on some form of technology.
But even as technology has become such a critical tool in our instructional inventory, the one thing that covid taught us is that regardless of these advances, there is no replacement for the teacher. We are now starting to see AI become part of our lexicon and are grappling with how this technology will impact the way our students learn. My suspicion is that just like the 1:1 device that came before, it will reinforce the importance of the classroom teacher.
Ironically enough, when I considered the changing educational landscape over the last decade, technological advances were at the beginning stages of a pretty significant paradigm shift in Hudson. Beginning in January of 2013, the board began preparations to move the high school to a 1:1 computer environment. Coined the 'connected learning initiative', we spent a lot of time in our community over the course of that school year educating our teachers, community, and students on what that actually meant. This all culminated in a 'referendum' on the project in September of 2023 when we had the PPEL renewal on the ballot. We were explicit that part of these funds would be used to pay for the computers as part of this initiative. Voters approved that measure in a landslide: 78.7%!
Here we are ten years later and we are now contemplating our next generation of device to replace the fleet of computers that are being used by our teachers and students. I do believe this will be our third generation of device. Computers are a great learning tool. AI will certainly enhance the student experience, and will likely cause some headaches along they way. But there is no replacement for the classroom teacher!