Teachers live in constant states of reinvention. By design, the role of an educator is to examine current states both within the classroom and within the world and find ways to adjust and pivot depending on what is in the best interest of students and learning. Perhaps more than any year in recent past, 2016 incited many questions and unknowns for teachers – leaving room for much uncertainty, but also offering great opportunity for exploration and growth.

The first weeks of our new year have provided good space and time for reflection. Many teachers found themselves asking: “Where are we at?” and“Where do we want to go?” For some, social media became a platform for discussion and consideration. Following in the participatory learning model in education, a major trend we saw ignite and begin to take shape in 2016, many teachers started the year by joining in the #oneword2017 project. After examining and finding areas for growth, teachers from all around the world took to social media to share blog posts, digital posters, and sentiments all expressive of their selected “one word” for 2017 that was most representative of their goals and passions for the year. Some words called for action; others revealed moonshot aspirations that dreamed to make the impossible possible. But, all brought foresight and anticipation for a year full of hope and progress.

In education over the past several years, the groundwork has been laid. We are now in a time when areas such as inquiry, equity, and voice and choice of students are guiding practice and pedagogy. This year, we are set to see both refinement and reinvention as it is a time where pathways to even moonshot dreams are attainable. Social emotional learning, social justice, access and opportunity will extend into every grade and every content area, and students will be invited to learn in their own ways through learning that is project based and centered on sustainable growth. As we look to make 2017 the best it can be in education, here are six education trends to watch in the year ahead:

Students as critical consumers and content creators

Now more than ever, our students need to be equipped with the skills needed to be careful evaluators of information. This year we can expect increased emphasis in both instruction and assessment on areas of digital literacy, media literacy, and civic education. Students will be asked to critically evaluate information and sources and discover the importance of high quality, relevant content. More and more, they will be exposed to new types of information, and they will be invited to ‘show what they know’ through evidencing and content curation.

Blended environments and flattened walls

The concept of ‘classroom’ has been shifting in recent years with dedication to purposefully designed learning spaces and seamless integrations of technologies. This year, we will see this expanded past classroom walls for more emphasis on community outreach and blended learning. Mobile learning will be enhanced with more interactions in online discussion forums and interactive multimedia experiences. The concept of anywhere, anytime learning will gain increased focus as asynchronous course work will be integrated more fluidly with in-class instruction, and students will have more opportunities for making real-world connections with learning through outreach, community connections, and global collaborations.

Formative assessment to support learning and inform instruction

As teachers aim for explicit outcomes, they will find strategic ways to incorporate formative assessment into learning experiences. Feedback systems and self-assessments will be used to inform instruction and assist students in better understanding learning goals throughout the entire process. Formative assessment in instruction will also be paired with emphasis on intrinsic motivation with shifts from focus on grades to focus on learning and also with differentiation with dedication to mastery for all.

Participatory learning for teachers

The movement of prioritising voice and choice in education this year will be extended from students to also include teachers. Participatory learning opportunities will become more prevalent and also more prioritised. Collaborative models, such as Edcamps and Twitter Chats, will begin to disrupt traditional professional development structures and teachers will be empowered to customize learning and professional growth based on interests and learning goals. Microcredentialing, digital badging, and Open Educational Resources (OERs) will take center stage, and dedicated PD will become accessible to all as opposed to a select few. We will hear more on the ‘human experience’ through the sharing of stories and information through blogging, social media, and innovative forms of content curation. Requests from teachers for actionable, engaging, and reliable PD will be heard, and teachers will be invited to use backward design planning to map out their desired end goals and the pathways they want to take to get there.

Time to highlight ‘teacher delight’

Dedication to practices to improve teacher retention will be explored in 2017. Teacher delight will become a much-needed area of focus as schools and administrators will look to improve the teacher experience and reinvent teacher identity. Teacher work spaces modeled after startup culture designs will become more collaborative, functional, and supportive, and teachers will be empowered to share perspectives and opinions in design thinking-style faculty meetings. Innovative and collaborative technologies will be used to connect and celebrate teachers, and opportunities for reflection and discussion will be prioritised. Teacher leadership will continue to gain traction and communities will dedicate resources to highlighting and valuing educators as heroes.

Parent as partners… Really!

The involvement of parents in the success of a student is undeniable. In 2017, schools will work to find ways to engage all families through supportive and personalized technologies and practices. Schools will concentrate on building home school connections for learning, and they will include parents as partners through surveys, parent interviews, and invitations to join as valued contributors. Advanced technologies will support parent engagement through visual workflow applications, and learning management systems will be further developed and emphasised to promote parent participation. This year educators will involve parents early and often, and as partners, we will work together to best support our students as a community.

In 2017, we as educators have important work to do. We as a global network have the ability to individually and collectively be the change we so desire to see. Through thoughtful and intentional dedication to bringing focus to the good happening in our classrooms and to amplifying our voices as teachers, we can make forward progress to supporting all students in learning. Here’s to a year full of hope and happiness! Let’s together make 2017 one for the record books!

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