It’s that time of year. Time to start acting on our New Year’s Resolution. These resolutions often include major life changes. The most popular resolutions include the following:
- loosing weight
- getting organized
- spending less, saving mor
- enjoying life to the fullest
- staying fit and healthy
- learning something exciting
- quiting smoking
- helping others reach their dreams
- falling in love, and
- spending more time with family.
Supporting student success is an ambiguous statement. What does that really mean? Today, WIOA mandates that we prepare every student to become a life-long learner capable of entering higher education or a sustainable career. This is a daunting task that is not up to the instructors alone. Ensuring students are capable of reaching important milestones is also the responsibility of educational leaders.
With the increasing cultural, social, economic, and instructional diversity of all students, creating customized learning environments is challenging. Furthermore, the switch from a structured school with traditional course sequencing is changing to a more fluid, customized, and dynamic learning community with the boundaries between higher education and the workplace blurring. We are expecting our staff to step into unchartered territory, which can be uncomfortable – possibly unfamiliar – and effectively facilitate learning for adults who are often the most vulnerable members of our communities. To accommodate these needs and changes, education administrators must develop different skills to be effective in leading transformational change.
The recent issue of the Brilliant Report discussed the concept of productive failure. “Allowing learners to struggle will actually help them learn better.” This concept tends to go against the natural instincts of teachers. Typically, we want to give our students a strong sense of structure and guidance, build their knowledge base, and then set them free to master their learning.
Yet, research seems to be telling us something different. The idea of productive failure emphasizes the idea that learners need to struggle with material in the beginning, with limited assistance from teachers for a while. As students work through the learning process, without the scaffolding provided by instructors, learners dissect the problems (test questions) and can often develop a greater understanding of the structure of the problem. Once learners can recognize the structure of problems, they are able to transfer this knowledge to new problems. We are not teaching to the test, but providing students with the opportunity for real learning.