Libby Pryce

Libby Pryce

  • Teaching Awards UK Winner of the BT Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School
  • Deputy headteacher and reception class teacher at Pitt Street Infant School, Mexborough, South Yorkshire

Tomorrow's teacher

I qualified as a teacher in 1972. Since then I have been on an incredible educational journey, experiencing many changes and developments. Each one of these has left its mark and shaped the education system we have today. I look around me in school and see quality - in the environment, in resources, in relationships and in the learning taking place. It excites me! Today we stand on the precipice of a giant leap in education brought about through the advances in new technology, the greater understanding of neuro and cognitive science and developments in learning theory. I wish I could be around in another 30 years time to witness the next steps and where they lead us!

The education system has already started its transition into the future moving from an emphasis on teaching to an emphasis on the learning taking place in the classroom. No longer is the teacher considered to be the 'fountain of all knowledge'. We know now that learning is what individuals do themselves, it is not what is done to them. Also information becomes knowledge when it has been experienced. The days of the teacher standing in front of a class and delivering information are diminishing. Schools are now moving towards teaching the key skills that equip pupils with the tools to become effective independent learners. This must be the primary aim for the future in education.

Networking and the sharing of information is a must for the future. When something is learnt should you not share it with others? By doing this we will develop and add to the rapid growth of information and knowledge being built and stored on the World Wide Web. A class of thirty pupils could become thirty teachers as they share their knowledge.

Personalised learning should become the future in schools. I believe there will still be a need for the provision of key subjects. These will form the foundations of learning, and learners will then build their own curriculum based upon individual needs and interests. There will be a curriculum entitlement based on choice, breadth of study and personal interest. Individuals will be able to navigate the educational system, build blocks of learning and construct their own route in education. This personal approach will encourage life-long learning as we realise that learning does not just happen in schools; it is happening all around us and is a part of everything we do in life. Today in schools we have pupils who are extremely knowledgeable in areas that are not accredited by the National Curriculum. Tomorrow's learners will have learning in all aspects of their lives acknowledged be it 'school', work or leisure based. This way of learning is made possible through the advances in new technology and the ease of access to knowledge.

Virtual Learning Environments are playing an increasing role in schools. Schools now have their own learning platforms where students have access to web pages, email, message boards, text and video conferencing, shared diaries, online social areas, as well as assessment tools. Technology helps learners connect with their communities and the global community. Learners have information at their finger tips and can source information on a global scale. Students will research and communicate on the internet learning through video links with renowned experts in their on field.

So what will be the role of tomorrow's teachers?

Teachers of the future will take on the role of a mentor and act as facilitators, as pupils build their own route in education. It will be the teacher's role to guide learners towards a broad and balanced curriculum and teach them the skills needed to embark on personal study and research. Conferencing will take on a major role as teachers encourage self-assessment and reflection. In short, they will unlock the potential within all learners and empower them with the tools for learning.

Teachers will also play a major role in providing an environment that fosters physical and emotional well being. Computer-based-learning can separate and cause people to be alone and physically inactive. Although this is necessary on occasions, too much isolation and sedentary activity is unhealthy. Teachers will facilitate sessions that build and foster relationships and develop social skills guiding pupils to work collaboratively, debate, share ideas and build upon knowledge they have applied. Also we must not neglect the provision for physical well being. Team sports as well as providing excellent exercise are also good for building relationships, learning how to interact and work as a team member. So Personal, Social, Health Education would become raised in status and one of the key subjects compulsory for the 'school aged' learner.

Alongside this sporting provision teachers will need to address physical activity and its effect on learning. We now know that physical activity can enhance and accelerate the brain's power for learning. Movement increases blood vessels that allow for the delivery of oxygen, water, and glucose to the brain optimising the brain's performance! Teachers already understand the benefits of brain gym and the connection between movement and learning. In classrooms of the future this will be more apparent. I believe learning will look different; pupils will be encouraged to move as they learn, or learn in shorter bursts interspersed with activity. Classrooms may look more like gyms with 'furnishings' which encourage movement.

What will tomorrow's schools look like?

With the advances in technology and the move towards personalised learning will we still need schools as we know them? Maybe they will become centres for lifelong learning where each community has their own Learning Hub. They would provide suitable learning spaces for all ages, pre school nurture rooms, primary and secondary environments, meeting rooms, conferencing suites, theatres, laboratories, gyms, libraries, art, music and dance studios. Here learners would have access to teachers, experts, personal mentors and coaches who would facilitate learning and guide learners within a structure that supports learning. These centres would be technological wonderlands with intelligent environments that respond to specific needs and preferences. Students would be recognised and registration would be automatic on entry to the hub as sensors pick up signals from micro chips on the body. At the same time messages from mentors, reminders, the days events, would be voice mailed straight to the individual. These hubs will be filled with learners of all ages enhancing personal projects and interests, with emphasis on personalised learning and the building of ones own portfolio of knowledge.

What will the portfolio look like?

Students would carry their own computer based learning journals which would hold their own research projects and current learning activities. It would also contain a personal portfolio with records of achievements, assessments and reports. There would be a marking facility inbuilt for some curriculum areas and immediate response given on completion of task. Pupils would be able to move at their own rate from unit to unit, thus enhancing the personalised approach to learning. Newsletters, information and other correspondence would be sent direct to these computers.

The thing in the future that will set one learner apart from another is creativity. Creativity enables pupils to solve problems, think independently and work flexibly. All these attributes will be needed in our rapidly developing world if one is to survive in tomorrow's work place. Creative teaching practices in schools will help to produce high level thinkers, inquiring minds, problem solvers and promote flexibility. Creativity can be developed, enhanced, and intensified and education establishments of tomorrow will have to place creativity high on their lists of priorities.

As learning establishments develop, their aims and visions will change to meet the needs of the future. However there are some aims that are common in today's educational establishments that should be preserved for future generations. We must develop well-rounded responsible citizens, who make a positive contribution to society. We must educate the whole child including the spiritual, physical, emotional, social, and creative aspects. We must develop self respect and respect for others regardless of race, religion, culture or gender.

It is inevitable as we move into tomorrow's world with its rapidly developing technology things will change in education. We should look forward to this and embrace these changes with great excitement. We should rejoice in the knowledge that the developments will improve teaching and learning, add value to our children's lives and enhance communities. Who would go back to using blackboard and chalk after using an interactive white board? Who would carry a reel-to-reel tape recorder to school when you can take mp3 files on a memory stick? Who would make a late night visit to the library when you can use the internet in the comfort of your own home? Who would prepare thirty writing frames by hand when you can generate them on a computer at the touch of a finger? Definitely not me! Been there! Done that!

How I wish I was just embarking on my teaching career. There is so much to be excited about! The future for tomorrow's teachers looks rosy to me!!