The Educator Talent Business Vs. The Educator Preparation Business

Tonight was a typical Monday night…I spent several hours reading, researching, learning, and exploring new philosophies on educational leadership and technology integration from some of the country’s top education experts. Learning from like-minded individuals in my PLN on Twitter, & LinkedIn and my latest go-to news source for all things education-related, Google +, has become my new favorite past time and I can’t seem to get enough of it. So it’s official: I’m addicted to learning! But tonight I veered away from the individuals in my global network, and decided to investigate more in-depth what the Granite State is doing within the realm of 21st century public education. I decided to go straight to the source: The New Hampshire Department of Education’s website. What I found was promising for the students of New Hampshire in terms of the direction my state is heading towards in the 21st century. My interest was peaked when I saw the link for “Innovations.” What I found when I visited the link was the title, “Redefining Educator Development for 21st Century Learners.” The page featured a series of video links, however I opted to read the “script” from the 2010 education summit which brought together the NH DOE, along with 11 other statewide associations.

The goal was “to examine how best to transform P12 education and preservice and inservice educator development.”

One hundred fifty educators, state association leaders, and state policy makers attended the summit and below is a statement from Tom Carroll, President of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, which I found to be incredibly profound, insightful, and exciting for the future of education and the impact changes in our education system could have on our students. Comprehensive information about the summit and the initiatives it has led it is available at

Mr. Carroll speaks about a total paradigm shift in how we “do” education. I view these changes as exciting, while some may view them as challenging. I agree that much of what Mr. Carroll talks about will be challenging, hard work for all of us in education, however as a future educational leader, I welcome the challenge and I’m ready to join a team of leaders who are also ready to take on the hard work and the challenge to change, because it has to be done for the sake of our students.

As I prepare to finish my M.Ed. in Educational Administration, I think back to the first course I took in my M.S. in Business Education program with Dr. Burton Kaliski, my mentor and inspiration for becoming a teacher. I distinctly remember Dr. Kaliski saying to me, “you’re going to become an administrator someday and make sure education is done right.” Those words have always stuck with me. I think Dr. Kaliski recognized the passion I had for teaching and learning. That passion still exists today, and has only gotten stronger over the past twelve years or so. I do want to make sure education is “done right” but what I’ve learned, and what is articulated beautifully by Tom Carroll, is that this is not something I can do alone.

Becoming part of an educational leadership team; one in which administrators, teachers, parents, and community members all play a leadership role in order to best support the learning and achievement of students is what I am looking for as I transition from being an educator to a “Lead Learner” (thank you Joe Mazza for your thoughts on the Principal as lead learner)! Working tirelessly on behalf of our students has become my focus, and I know there are hundreds of educators in New Hampshire who do the same. We really don’t view all this change as “work” and I think that is because we love what we do and everything we do is for the kids.

Please take some time to read the incredible vision for education shared below by Mr. Tom Carroll and share your comments. Do you agree that schools need to get out of the “teacher preparation business” and instead focus on the “talent development business?” I’d love to hear your perspective and examples of school leaders who understand we are in the “learning age.”

Transformation: Redefining Public Education For the 21st Century

Tom Carroll, President, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future –

“This is pretty impressive. It’s basically the teacher preparation community in the state assembled here. What matters most in the 21st Century is less teaching and more learning.

I call it the “learning age” because learning is no longer preparation for a job; learning is the job. Our schools need to look like the places that students will live and work for the rest of their lives.
If all we do is to succeed at giving today’s students a better factory era education, then the future’s already over. Schools of education need to get out of the teacher preparation business. You need to be in an educator talent development business. You need to get out of the teacher preparation business, and, you need to do it fast, because the world around you is changing, including the education world around you.

The 21st century is going to begin when we abandon schools that are dedicated to the delivery of text-based, graded instruction in stand-alone classrooms. I’m afraid we’re not in the 21st century yet, at least not in education. We have to get out of this idea that we are going to staff schools with single, stand-alone teachers in classrooms and start creating learning teams. Collaborative learning spaces like we have in the rest of our economy, everywhere we go.

What would these teachers need to do if they were working in learning organizations? They’d be developing “learning-age” competencies. Just as a quick summary: Core competencies, things that you know happen in schools; creative competencies; communication competencies; cultural competencies. They Will Develop Learning-age competencies:

Core Competencies: in language arts, reasoning, information, literacy, mathematics, science, and social sciences necessary for college and workforce success.

Creative Competencies: including creative expression in the arts, critical thinking, innovative and collaborative problem solving and resourcefulness.

Communication competencies: with languages, digital media, social networking and content creation technologies.

Cultural competencies; including cultural understanding, personal and communal responsibility, adaptability and resilience and ability to engage in production teamwork and active citizen participation.

These are not things that you teach. These aren’t things that you learn from a textbook. These are things that you learn by doing, by working in collaborative teams in project-based learning environments.

So, the teachers need to learn to facilitate this competency development in their students, but the teachers also need to develop these competencies. If you’re ready to get serious about getting out of teacher preparation and into educator talent development, what talents do they need to develop, these are talents they need to have. You need to ask yourself are your graduates leaving with those competencies?

In education, we immediately see personalized and we think, “Okay, it’s the teacher’s job to personalize the learning for the student, to kind of tailor the learning to the student.” No! It’s the learner’s job to personalize the learning, and, it’s the teacher’s job to facilitate that personalization.

We’ve gone from the stand-alone teacher of the 50’s to the stand-alone teacher of the 21st century. And, as good as she is, she’s a young teacher, she can’t to do anything to learn from even better teachers who are in her school or in her district because we’ve got a stand-alone teaching model entrenched from the 1900’s in the 21st century. It’s 2010. And as good as Mrs. Jones was, she’s gone. Because she wasn’t satisfied with that either.

Developing future Educators: There’s three ways to do it and only one will lead to the future.

1. Design campus-based teacher preparation improvements with new courses and programs…to prepare better stand-alone teachers who deliver text-based instruction in yesterday’s self-contained classrooms.

2. Create new partnerships with mentored induction programs, professional development schools, teaching coaches, and innovative technologies…to develop better stand-along teachers who deliver text-based instruction in yesterday’s self-contained classrooms.

3. Replace teacher Preparation with educator Talent development from career pipelines to career lattices that support mass career customization. From preparing teachers to developing learning experts and learning facilitators. Educator development becomes project-based-learning in which the project is to learn hot to facilitate learning.

If all we’re doing is developing better stand alone teachers for self contained classrooms, we haven’t changed anything you have to change the business model. The third way is to replace preparation get out of the teacher prep business. Get into the educator development business. The first two, you haven’t changed anything. Prepare learning experts, learning facilitators, and make educator development be project-based learning. “Why are we still asking her to do this toughest job we have alone? It’s just not acceptable anymore. We have to break out of that and give these teachers the teamwork and the support they need to succeed.

This sounds like a school with a fair number of children who need strong adult, stable continuity presence in their lives and you’re it for 116 kids, and we’re saying that’s too much to ask you to do. We need to bring more people to the game. We need to bring some retired teachers to back you up, we need to bring some people from the private sector to back you up. So all of a sudden instead of you and 116 kids, it’s you and about a dozen adults working in teams with these kids which you’re leading—the teams. It’s no longer classroom based…It’s project based learning.

So, we just have to simultaneously change the business model. If we try to piece meal it, we’ll get stuck. What if somebody in the community knows more than the certified teacher? How do we use that resource? What if one of the students knows more than the certified teacher? With the massive shift we have going on in our economy, this kind of change could happen in 5-8 years. We’re kind of startled at how fast it’s going in the project sites we’re working with.

Always end with Margaret Mead who said, “Never doubt the power of a small group of thoughtful committed people to change the world.” That’s the way it’s always happened. You’re a big group of thoughtful, committed people and you can change the world in this state. So, let’s do it. Thank you.”


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