OnCUE

Author - Pam Hernandez

Inspiring the Future

Inspiring the future. This is what we do! This is why we are educators. We are on the ground floor of everything that will be amazing about the future.

Inspiring the future comes with incredible responsibility. It comes with the responsibility to grow as a professional. It comes with the responsibility to stay current with pedagogical trends, research, and best practices. It comes with the responsibility to pay attention to how the skills needed in the workforce are changing and developing. Inspiring the future comes with the responsibility to create strong relationships with our students, to teach them what it means to be a person of good character, to teach them about culture, citizenship, and the importance of being adaptable. It comes with the responsibility to grow partnerships with our students’ parents and the community.

There was a time when education in the United States focused primarily on content delivery and instilling an understanding of what it means to be an American citizen. There has been a dramatic shift in what it means to be educated person. While it once meant to have delved into the study of literature and to have extensive memorized-knowledge of dates and facts across content areas, being an educated person in a world of Google, YouTube, Audible, and E-readers is far different. Literature and fact-based historical knowledge are no longer a rare commodity.

Inspiring the future calls for us to further refine what it means to be an educated person. To be educated now means to understand how to approach complex problems with an open mind. It means embrace struggle while learning and forging ahead with effort. To be educated means to think creatively while working collaboratively. It means to develop students into citizens of our local communities and our nation, as well as globally and digitally.

This year’s kindergarten student will retire around 2080. 2080! Will it matter if they are versed in the memorization of facts? Will it matter if they have memorized their multiplication tables? To be sure, standardized tests and current cultural expectations continue to prize these skills. Yet, we already see the shift of memorized knowledge being referred to as trivia. Will the knowledge we prize today be seen as useful in 50, 60, 75 years?

Inspiring the future calls for a shift in identifying how to provide today’s student with the gift of adaptability, to expand the understanding of citizenship to include how to contribute locally, nationally, globally, and digitally. Inspiring the future calls for us to create learning experiences that allow students to develop critical thinking, communication, creative, and collaborative skill sets. To inspire the future calls for us to create opportunities for students to apply these skills in projects at every age and grade level.

Yes, this can be difficult, even scary. Inspiring the future, however, is also life-changing and rewarding. Yes, we will get things wrong. More importantly, though, we will also get things right. We are setting the foundation for today’s children to enter adulthood inspired, ready to be productive, adaptable, and ready for a workforce that will take them to 2080.

We are preparing today’s student for their tomorrow!

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Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez is the Superintendent of the San Antonio Union Elementary School District. She serves on the SLOCUE Affilliate and SLO ACSA Charter Boards. Pam finds her passion for students and education in developing cultures of love and care that focus on the whole child.