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Blog: Monday, January 4th, 2016

My Top Three for 2016

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Welcome to 2016! I hope all our staff and students had a wonderful Christmas-New Year’s break, and had the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends. I thought it appropriate that in addition to my welcome back message that I would include some predictions for education for 2016. These predictions are not as dramatic as some others that I have seen already this year. The field of education is generally a pretty safe area, so I won’t venture out too far.

Social Media
It's not a shocker that I think social technologies will continue to proliferate within schools districts. I think that the percentage of students using social media will remain relatively static, but we will see significant changes within the adult population, as we all desperately try keep up with our trend setting children. More and more teachers and administrators will join the fray in using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social technologies to advance learning. The Pew Research Center south of the border released several reports on social media in 2014, and one of the significant findings was that 65% of adults use social networking sites, up from 7% (!) when they began tracking theses data in 2005. Comfort with personal use will support an increase in professional use. The charge will certainly be lead by the next generation of new teachers and parents, but we will also see more and more people in my demographic join the fray. We still have a way to go to catch up to our students, 92% of whom claim that they use social media on a daily basis. 

Student Voice
It is not an accident that so many districts now have student councils fully devoted to educational advisement. Districts have realized the importance of student engagement in their educational experiences, and are finding unique and thoughtful ways to secure their meaningful participation. Some districts are using student trustees on their boards, others (like us) have a district student council to tap into student experiences for system level decision makers. Case in point: as we roll out our next IT Roadmap, we have met with these student representatives to seek their input in the use of technology. Within classrooms we will see more and more students given voice and choice into their day to day learning experiences. The fact is that we no longer have the captive audience we had in past decades. More and more teachers will have a deeper understanding of their students by virtue of simply asking them. Choice is a powerful motivator, and will take on even more significance with our re-designed curriculum. 

Assessment and Reporting
In previous blog posts, I have lamented about our profession’s use of percentages and letter grades in our assessment and reporting. I won’t delve into it again, save to say that we have the capacity to do better. We can certainly take advantage of more sophisticated means to describe our students as learners in ways that they and their parents can understand—and on which post-secondary institutions can comfortably rely. So to my prediction: school districts (at the K-9 level) will move away from percentages and letter grades, and adopt development competency based reporting. Many districts have hedged their bets on this front during the last few years. Some schools and districts have boldly moved to more thoughtful approaches, but generally we have waited for permission – for the Ministry to change the Reporting Order. This will be the year. We will certainly need to do some work to educate parents and students, but it will be welcomed and appreciated in the long term. Just ask our kindergarten teachers!

So there you have it, my top three predictions about what 2016 will bring the education sector! One of the down sides of predicting things on my blog spot is that you publicly open yourself up to the possibility of being wrong. However, the beauty of doing it only annually is that by this time next year, most of the people who read this will have completely forgotten what I said. So as I said, it’s pretty safe.

Have a great 2016.

By Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden
Kevin Godden

By Kevin Godden, Superintendent of Schools

Kevin has been the Superintendent of Schools for the Abbotsford School District since July 2011, overseeing some 19,000 students and 2,500 employees. Kevin is committed to student success in all forms and envisions a school district that can nimbly respond to the ever changing needs and interests of its students.