Education is always an evolving field, but it experienced an unprecedented rate of change in 2020. No one would claim the educational shifts wrought by the pandemic were easy, but experts with backgrounds in curriculum development were best poised to meet such challenges. As Pre-K through 12th-grade education continues to adapt in the coming years, a Master of Science in Curriculum & Instruction prepares leaders to be at the forefront of this transformation.
A hybridized instruction model combining digital and in-person learning will be essential for schools in the coming years. For the vast majority of Pre-K through 12 schools, this is a radical shift. Hybrid models require careful design, implementation, management, and evaluation to ensure they meet all students’ learning needs. An educator with advanced training in curriculum and instruction is positioned to play a significant role in a school’s shift to a hybridized model.
At the Forefront of Culture
Whatever instructional changes the future brings, experts agree: A school’s culture will be more important than ever to its mission’s success.
In a report for the United Kingdom-based National College of School Leadership, author David Bennett writes that as classrooms transition to hybridized or primarily digital spaces, student diversity increases.
Students will not be seated by the dozens in classrooms; they’ll be learning within their family and social environments alongside adults and siblings. Teachers will need to unite students and their families around a common culture. Bennett puts it simply: “As diversity grows, so does the importance of a culture.”
An educational leader’s responsibility will not only be to ensure that a particular school curriculum is sound but also that teachers, staff, students, and families are unified in their culture and goals. With so many other variables influencing the educational experience, school culture must inspire buy-in from all stakeholders.
Ensuring Success for All
While some students may quickly adapt to online learning and digital tools, others may feel left behind. Education technology can present unique challenges for students with disabilities, those who speak English as a second language, and those without reliable access to high-speed internet
Educational leaders must ensure that hybridized learning models benefit all students. This mission actually combines two core goals of the Future Ready Initiative, a partnership launched in 2015 by the US Department of Education and the Alliance for Excellent Education: equity and digital/tech access.
Personalization will be a key facet of such hybrid models. Teachers will need to tailor both in-person and virtual classroom instruction to individual students more than ever. Leaders with a curriculum and instruction background will be well positioned to implement and evaluate hybridized learning models to ensure they serve all students with all learning styles and abilities.
Collaborative Professional Development
Historically, educational leaders followed a top-down approach. Those in leadership positions made decisions that the staff followed. But recent trends, accelerated by the pandemic, have upended this hierarchy.
In the future, experts anticipate teachers to become more active, rather than passive, in their professional development. Twitter chats and Edcamps are just two examples of how the field democratizes professional development and solicits contributions from classroom educators. This will continue to be vitally important as hybridized models expand; schools and districts will look to classroom teachers for best practices and success stories in digital instruction.
Experts also suggest that students and families participate in discussions regarding teachers’ professional development. This helps ensure that professional development goals will translate to improved classroom outcomes.
Instructional models have had to adapt alongside the evolution of technology and pedagogy, but the speed of such changes has accelerated dramatically within the past year. In 2021 and beyond, educational leaders will need to draw on their training in curriculum and instruction to ensure their schools can meet the challenges of hybrid learning models. When they do, they prepare all students and teachers for the best odds of success.