Schools are ecosystems
“Because schools aren’t broken, and we are not here to fix them, I don’t think we need to break them down and rebuild them.”
“Schools and districts are ecosystems, and ecosystems don’t break. But we do need to take care of them. In the end, all the pieces are in place for education to work well. But these pieces need to be assembled in a different way if we want it to work better.’”
These are the words of Michelle Cody, an inspiring elementary teacher who gave a keynote speech at the 2016 ISTE conference. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). ISTE’s mission supports teachers like Michelle to “continually improve learning and teaching around the world.”
Keep our educational ecosystem alive
As a teacher myself, I know how difficult it is to take the time to explore new ideas and venues in education. One of the reasons I left the classroom last year was so that I could gain some perspective on education in a global sense. Michelle Cody’s analogy to schools and ecosystems is a good one. It is easy to inhabit one tiny part of the ecosystem and think that the entire system is crashing down, but it isn’t. There are millions of us out there making sure that it stays alive.
Adapt and thrive
Ecosystems thrive when they adapt to the ever-changing environment. And even though we have accepted technology on a certain level, we need to absorb it completely. We need to embrace it in the classroom, at home, administratively, and as teachers. In order to do that, we need to synchronize. Every school needs to have adequate Internet access to function on a global level. Once that is ensured, we can access all of the technology our students need to keep up with global education.
Share the wealth
Every system needs to be number one, not just Korea. It is all well and good to be the best, but when we get there, it is our responsibility to share the wealth. Why, as a global community, do we want anyone to be at the bottom of the list when it comes to education? If we want to be a global community, shouldn’t the best be lifting the worst to the top instead of reveling in all their glory?
Enough about idealism.
The reality is that you might be a teacher who works in an environment where students don’t have access to mobile devices, or your school may not have adequate bandwidth to support the kind of Internet that you find in the top ten school systems. So what do you do?
You learn. You take what you have and you work with it. You start to reassemble your ecosystem so that it works better. Eventually, the system will catch up with you if you model what technology does for your students.
We, teachers, are a hearty lot, and often we run out of the stamina to convince people of best teaching practice, but our students deserve to have the best. Once you teach them this, they will teach their parents, who will then push administrators and politicians to support the endeavor to excel in education.
The bottom line
According to Michelle Cody, the bottom line is this: “The students need you, and they need you to refuse to leave, refuse to give up.”